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Joni: Surprisingly Sensual   Print

by Christine Brown
Detroit Free Press
August 10, 1974

Surely, Joni Mitchell’s soul lives just behind her face.

Her eyebrows have an upward lift, hinting at the wisdom of a woman who has learned the universal truths about love and disappointment.

Her cheekbones, so high and severe, bespeak a sensuality that could get her into trouble.

Her mouth is pure magic, delivering a sweet, anguished message to al those who, like joni, have trouble living and loving in a complicated world.

It’s hard to fathom, but Joni proved at Pine Knob Thursday and Friday that she is even better in concert than on her albums.

The musical quility is the same – high – buy onstage Joni, backed by Tom Scott and the LA Express, creates an excitement that is both auditory and visual. It’s like the difference between radio and television, and it’s almost too much for her fans to take. Thursday a small girl jumped onto the stage to give Joni a plant. The Pine Knob ushers leaped after and reached to pull her away, but Joni just smiled and hugged the girl.

And in her own way, Joni embraced the audience all night long with her songs of the confusion and hurt of loving, the joy of drinking a bottle of wine in a café, the bar and grill that inevitably rests by the side of the road.

Whether accompanying herself alone on the guitar, playing the dulcimer, or singing to the boogie sound of Scott and his men Joni conveys a surprising sensuality.

Her movements are downright foxy sometimes, and she knows just what she is doing when she takes off the jacket of her pyjama outfit to sing, swaying, in a ping halter and flowing pants.

Sometimes her songs come with a cynical shrug, as when she dismisses all the dreamy eyed college boys: “all romantics meet the same fate someday, all cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark café.”

Sometimes a song is raw. “Raised on Robbery,” the tale of a prostitute who is less than successful, is delivered in a bath of red light to the accompaniment of a blatantly sexy saxophone.

Joni delivered more than her fans could have hoped for, singing a long concert of music that was every bit as pleasing as it was on her albums (the one except was “Help Me” which sounded too hollow).

Her sweet, husky voice is marked by an odd cry that simply seems to escape from her. At the end of a phrase it pours from her, not so much vibrato as an exploration of a note and its darker side. And that’s how she deals with life.

 

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