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Review by David Rind
Buoyed by a strong band, and in very good voice, Joni Mitchell was in complete command in the open air setting of Forest Hills Tennis Stadium on this serene mid-summer's night. Her singing was confident and unforced. The band followed her leadership flawlessly - even the obligatory solos of Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius and Michael Brecker seemed to complement the musical flow. And the highly enthusiastic audience was swept along, so much so that the usual shouted suggestions were kept to a minimum.
The songs was typical for the 1979 tour, comprising selections primarily from her mid-to-late 70's albums of pop/rock/jazz vintage. In her folk-rock days, hearing Joni with and without a band was like being at two different concerts (witness the gulf between sides 1 and 2 on "Miles of Ailes"). Now, with a minimum of reportage, Joni moved seamlessly between mostly solo mood pieces and fully backed high-spirited rock. Almost all the performances hit the mark, but special mention should be made of: "In France They Kiss on Main Street" which seemed to fit her rhythms perfectly; the always excellent "Dreamland"; a syncopated version of "God Must Be a Boogie Man"; and wonderfully sensitive performances of (the always excellent) "Amelia"; "Hejira"; "Furry Sings the Blues"; "Last Time I Saw Richard"; and "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat". On the last song, Joni hit all the high notes.
She was joined toward the end by the Persuasions, who were also the opening act, for harmonized versions of "Shadows and Light" and "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" (similar to the takes included on the 1980 album and video "Shadows and Light").
It's clear that Joni enjoyed the support she got from musicians of this caliber, and they perfectly fit her current idiom, challenging as it is. She was clearly at ease, and looked great. There was no downside to this performance; I'd rate the concert a solid "A".
The songlist (excluding the instrumental solos):
Big Yellow Taxi
Just Like This Train
In France They Kiss on Main Street
Edith and the Kingpin
Free Man in Paris
Goodbye Pork Pie Hat
Dry Cleaner from Des Moines
Furry Sings the Blues
God Must Be a Boogie Man
Raised on Robbery
Shadows and Light
Last Time I Saw Richard
Why Do Fools Fall in Love