Whatever anyone says, we believe Chrissie. But we're getting a little ahead of ourselves.
Two nights ago (Nov. 7)--which just happened to be Joni Mitchell's 52nd birthday-- Mitchell
performed at the small, 150 seat nightclub in New York City called Fez. The show was unannounced, save a single mention of it on Rita Houston's City Folk program on WFUV-FM that morning. That's all it took to pack Fez-and not only with civilians, but with a spectacular bevy of divas: an allegedly drunk Chrissie
Hynde, who had come straight from her Symphony Space live broadcast; Carly Simon, impeccably
dressed and coifed; Katell Keineg, that New Age alternative Irish singer, who was first in
line for tickets; with Natalie Merchant bringing up the rear. Also in attendance was Victoria
Williams, who is also going to play her own unannounced show at the Fez on Sunday (Nov. 12).
Mitchell took the stage at around 9:40 PM and opened with "Refuge Of The Roads." Midway through the hour and a half set, Chrissie Hynde roared her approval--gushing very audibly "I love you , I love you" as well as occasionally bellowing, hooting and clapping her hands from her center rear booth. Carly Simon, glaring at the rather tipsy Hynde, finally got fed up and suggested that Hynde sit down, and if you'll excuse the expression, "shut up." That's all it took. According to eye witnesses, Hynde leaped up, grabbed Simon around the neck, and shoved her to the ground, where she began to pummel her--not once but twice.
Joni Mitchell, ever the ice princess, never missed a beat. She continued to regale the crowd with three songs from Hejira some vintage material, as well as three new, untitled songs that she's working on. If it weren't for the Simon/Hynde conflagration, the high point of the night would have been when Katell Keineg led the audience in singing "Happy Birthday" to Mitchell. Mitchell ended the night gracefully thanking the audience: "What a nice experience, I thank you for this."
When ATN contacted Warner Bros. Records, the label that Hynde records for, a publicist did confirm that something had happened at the show, but tried to pass it off as an affectionate gesture on Hynde's part toward Simon. "Yeah, she grabbed her around the neck but she was just hugging her." Sure.
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