CARNEGIE HALL, NYC - It's the best of both worlds. Flowing out onto a naked stage (save a piano, guitar and dulcimer), she is greeted to the cheers, screams and general euphoric euphoria of Mitchellmania. But you can hear a pin drop as she begins to perform and she can introduce many new tunes to the evening without fear. Joni Mitchell is adored and her talent is respected. Would we had a dollar for every "beautiful" that was laid upon her altar, for then we could buy enough albums to distribute to the unenlightened among us.
In all, she sang a total of six new tunes, ranging from the introspective "For The Roses" (not your ordinary "lonely singer in the limelight" tune) to the analogy-filled, socially-conscious "Banquet." While often referred to as one of the few "genuine feminists" on the male-dominated music scene, only one song ("Oh Honey, You Turn Me On, I'm A Radio") set out in the concrete any point about liberation. Even here, it was layered between multi-meaning passages and themes, one in particular tactfully chiding AM radio for neglecting the kind of music that can sell out a hall like Carnegie. Now to be recorded by Atlantic-distributed Asylum, she's in a position to continue on her own road whether the boss jocks care for her or not. Eventually, that "Big Yellow Taxi" 's gonna take them all away if they don't listen and fess up.
Although Joni was indubitably the headliner, there was a considerable amount of interest among the audience regarding the appearance of Jackson Browne, the young California-based songwriter/singer who also records for Asylum. Strumming effortlessly on his acoustic guitar, Browne was magnificent, creating whirls of lyrical images and letting his richly textured voice underline them in memorable fashion. "Song For Adam," a portrait of an acquaintance which grows more moving with each rendering, was joined by the gospel-tinged "Rock Me On The Water," "These Days" and "Take It Easy." On piano he did a splendid "Jamaica Say You Will." Browne is a spell caster who should be a top-billed attraction before long. r.a. & e.k.
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