With a little help from longtime supporter Brandi Carlile, legendary singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell made a triumphant return to the stage last night (June 10) in her first ticketed headlining show in 20 years. The "Joni Jam" performance was part of Carlile's Echoes Through the Canyon run at the Gorge Amphitheater in Washington State and followed Mitchell's surprise appearance last summer during Carlile's Newport Folk Festival set.
The 24-song setlist pulled from all eras of Mitchell's career and started with a mass singalong of one of her biggest hits, "Big Yellow Taxi," done in unison with special guests. That lineup included Marcus Mumford, who appeared on "Come in from the Cold," as well as Annie Lennox on "Ladies of the Canyon," Sarah McLachlan on "Blue," Lucius on "Cactus Tree," Wendy & Lisa Melvoin on "A Strange Boy," and Blake Mills on "Amelia."
Guitar phenom Celisse played on a few tracks, including "Raised on Robbery," "Sex Kills," and "Help Me." In addition to hosting and interviewing Mitchell throughout the night, Carlile also guested on one of the penultimate tracks, "Shine," before the main set wrapped with "Both Sides Now" and "The Circle Game."
Mitchell, 79, was seated for most of the night but took lead on several songs, including "Night Ride Home" and "Carey." There were a number of covers sprinkled throughout the set, including George Gershwin's "Summertime," the Clovers' "Love Potion No. 9," and Frank Sinatra's "Young at Heart," which closed the show.
According to Rolling Stone, the sold-out event drew 25,000 people eager to see Mitchell live following a string of health setbacks for the singer, including a 2015 brain aneurysm.
This staged version of "Joni Jam" was an outgrowth of the more personal singalongs Carlile has hosted with friends at Mitchell's L.A. home in recent years years. As previously reported, last year's Newport set will be memorialized on the live album At Newport on July 24 via Rhino.
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