It was more than just a good weekend for music in Detroit. It was an ecstatically delicious weekend, filled with performances that brought numbers of people to their feet.
Friday night, Joni Mitchell played to a capacity crowd at Masonic. Preceded by Jackson Browne, who is more of a songwriter ("Rock Me on the Water", etc.) than he is a performer. Miss Mitchell has lost none of her charm onstage since the last time I saw her.
She opened with "This Flight Tonight", her most tentative performance of the evening. During the course of the song she felt out the audience, saw it was a warm and responsive house, and then opened up for the rest of the show.
Joni Mitchell's singing style, resonant and full of natural vibrato, was complemented best when she sat at the piano where she sang "Blue" and "For Free" among other songs.
"Free" especially, surpassed even her recorded version of it, as did "Both Sides Now", which sounds much simpler and unconfined without the Josh Rifkin arrangement that Judy Collins recorded.
Joni Mitchell is a poet-musician, full of lyrical, beautiful songs that inspire both tears and laughter. As one rock-hardened DJ said, "I didn't cry, but I sure sniffed a lot."