"It was a concert on a tightrope. The performers of folk music teetered treacherously above the heads of a sometimes friendly, sometimes hostile crowd. And much of the music played, with the exception of the opening rock set by Chilliwack, appeared fragile, and almost pale, as a result.
Joni Mitchell was the headliner. And despite the fact she sounds like something just short of an angel on records, she was nervous and stiff and anything but at ease in her first concert at the Pacific Coliseum.
Her voice couldn't get out of second gear long enough to set sail out into the cavernous depths of the Coliseum. Songs, particularly songs with deep black pools for words, require something more than plain singing to communicate meaningfully.
And Joni Mitchell's songs are among the most beautiful moments of music of today. But throughout her set Friday night, those same rich words appeared to be little more than dried skeletons. She sang Chelsea Morning, like the window was attached to a hospital.
Similarly, in her satirical Big Yellow Taxi song, her voice was lacking in the small girl tongue-in-cheek punch necessary to make the song have any impact. It was very much a case of trying to make merry with a two dimensional, rather faded, yellow balloon.
Instant miracle of the concert was James Taylor. He ambled onstage like an animated rubbed band, wrapped himself somewhere between an easy chair and a microphone, and began to play after midnight songs.
Taylor is. And that's about all that you can say about him. He has his own style, his own songs, his own philosophy and his own sense of humor. And you can listen and laugh. And all he will do is say "thank you," somewhat sarcastically.
Opening the concert were the rock and roll stylings of Chilliwack. And they too were a refreshing few minutes in quality playing and original musical thought, mainly drawn from their latest LP."
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