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Wally's Tour Report
The weather was cold and windy today at the Gorge. The hanging multi-ton lights above the stage swung back and forth throughout the evening, their canvas coverings flapping in the rough breeze; eight foot high heaters sat onstage with the musicians for the entire show. These threatening conditions affected the performers as well as the audience.
Joni was again the second performer in the lineup, although Bob and Van switched their order onstage with Dylan opening the show and Morrison closing it, as they had occasionally done when they performed on the same bill earlier in the year.
Before the concert, I was told that Joni wasn't feeling well (she had a cold); she gave a fine 75 minute performance, but she wasn't as "on" as the night before. She came out wearing a reddish-brown ankle length coat over a light brown blouse and dark slacks, topped with a light brown hat. Before her solo performance of "Just Like This Train," she peeled off her coat because she was getting shocks from the mic and put on a shorter coat of a different fabric.
During the show she hit an old barrier, forgetting the words to "Hejira" in the same place as she has a few times before when performing the song in the 90s- "...I'm porous with travel fever..." (What is it about that line that sometimes stumps her?) Joni's mic occasionally crackled, causing her to mention it a few times during her set. Still her performance was full of grace and elegence.
The setlist was:
Night Ride Home
The Crazy Cries of Love
Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Just Like This Train
Big Yellow Taxi
Hejira (tonight she changed the line "Strains of Benny Goodman coming through the snowy trees..." to "I thought I heard ol' blue eyes crooning through the snowy trees...")
The Magdalene Laundries
Moon at the Window
Brian's drumming is fantastic and very intricate. He pounds away on his kit with a big smile on his face, looking like he's having the time of his life. His playing on "Black Crow" and "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" was particularly noteworthy and propulsive.
One thing that made this cold day feel almost warm was the fact that I had a friendly guest at the show, Mr. Meriwether Jones. Thanks for the loan of your sweater, Meri!
Reports from the Internet Community
(From:Tom Vigal, firstname.lastname@example.org)- Impressions from the Gorge, May 16th and 17th:
Went both nights - first night in back row at top of the gorge area, second night in row 21, left of center. Able to enjoy first night in spite of remoteness, taking in the big view and knowing where we'd be the second night. Able to enjoy the second night, in spite of crowdedness, having spent the previous one more alone, at icy altitudes.
Colder and windier the second night, Joni was bundled up, but shed her long coat, saying that she was getting shocked, maybe from static from the nylon in the coat. Or maybe potential lightening.
Later good-humoredly saying that the shock-ing problem better get fixed, since she couldn't shed any more layers. The audience playing along with encouragement for further layer-shedding.
Hearing the crackle of the shocks from microphone contact. Me hoping she didn't get electrocuted.
The stage lights swinging in the wind from their chains overhead. Me hoping she didn't get squashed.
Memorizing the set list as "Night-Crazy Harry, Slouching Jealous Black Amelia, Big Hejira Happiness Sex, Magdelena Moon-Wood" (Ya gotta do it with rhythm). Later remembering that "Jealous" = "Just Like This Train".
Large Brutus-like guy a couple of rows up standing up and yelling "We love you, Joni" at random intervals, but never while she was singing. Me transitioning from annoyance to agreement. Confusion to the plane.
A woman sitting next to us with her teenage son, explaining why certain songs were significant for her.
The crowd near the stage sounding louder the first night, as heard from the top of the gorge area, vs. the second night, heard from the near-stage area. Wondering whether it was just acoustics or enthusiasm tempered by temperature.
Joni's speaking voice and laugh sound like they haven't changed much from earliest recordings. At least less so than her singing voice. She laughs a lot - very liquid and light and genuine. Young, but not girlish.
Joni was at her most enchanting when recovering from missed lyrics or changes. She seemed very at ease and personable. Privately wishing she'd make more flubs just for her humor in the recovery. Already knowing what the songs sound like done perfectly.
The first night, she introduced Larry Klein as her "recently ex-husband" and got a good giggle out of it herself (as did he and everyone around me in the audience). I heard the phrase "recently ex-husband" repeated a lot by the surrounding concert-goers during the post-set break. The second night she introduced Larry as "Klein-Klein".
Her explanation that Big Yellow Taxi was inspired by her first view of Hawaii from her hotel window the morning after arriving on her first visit - all she could see was a parking lot.
She does a damn fine Bob Dylan impression. This was genuinely hilarious. Didn't hear Dylan try to do Joni.
Her voice sounds great. She always nails her pitch. How can she smoke so much and keep her voice in such shape?
Thinking I'd like to photograph her hands. They're beautiful, significant.
Feeling that this concert was a blessing, since I had long ago assumed I'd never get to hear Joni live, having started to collect her recordings in 1984 just after she last stopped touring.
Hoping she had a good time, so that she'll do it again soon - preferably as the sole headliner.
(From:PangaeaPartners@compuserve.com)- Well tonight's concert was different in several ways.
1. Bob Dylan opened and Van closed. Dylan's set was quite different. Yesterday Van played "My Way" in remembrance of Frank Sinatra. Not tonight.
2. There was a considerable amount of wind and it was colder. All the musicians bundled up.
3. The concert started an hour earlier. This meant Joni played while it was still light.
4. Joni played a similar set to Saturday night. She seemed to like playing in the light because she could see everybody. On the otherhand, something was causing static pops. The roadies asked Joni to take off her coat but it did not solve the problem.
5. Joni's playing a similar set ended up causing me to "look around" at the others a bit more than the night before. Her drummer, Brian Blade, is really good! I also hadn't noticed that Greg Liesz played guitar on one number.
6. Some song intros were modified or different. No intro was given to Magdalen Laundries -- see my Email on yesterday's concert.
7. The wind degraded the sound quality. Also, there were so many people around me talking. Not just during Joni -- during everything. I don't know if because my seats were different or for some other reason. They don't talk in movies why at a concert. If it was only one person I would have said something but when it is so many people, what can one do.
All told another wonderful night albeit not quite as magical as Saturday night. Now back to the "real world". Too bad.
As far as some questions asked on the list:
1. What did Joni talk to the audience about? FOR EXAMPLES - SEE MY POST YESTERDAY Was she talkative? MODERATELY
2. How did she introduce songs, or did she go right into them? VARIED -- ABOUT 50-50
3. Was their an encore? YES Did the three FOUR look chummy? MAINLY FOCUSSED ON PLAYING BUT CERTAINLY GOT ALONG WELL.
4. Which song seemed to move her the most? HAVE TO ASK JONI -- I GOT NO IMPRESSION
5. Which song did she have the most fun with? DITTO
6. Which other musicians/celebrities were in the audience? I DID NOT PAY ANY ATTENTION TO THIS AND HAVE NO IDEA
7. Did she look worn out at the end or did you think she could have gone on with more singing? TONIGHT HER VOICE SOUNDED A BIT WORN ON THE FIRST 2-3 SONGS BUT OTHERWISE SHE SEEMED OKAY. YES SHE MIGHT BE ABLE TO DO MORE BUT I SORT OF DOUBT MUCH MORE THAN SAY 30 MINUTES. (WHY PUSH IT ANYWAY?)
(From:Lori Magnuson, email@example.com)- I wanted to cry when Joni first came out on stage & began to sing-her voice was so pure, so layered-it was beautiful. Anyway, Joni couldn't have done anything wrong in my book, because I felt so privileged to see her. I've been a fan since 1970, and I never thought I'd have the chance to see her. I had great seats-11th-row, so I can't complain about not being near enough. The crowd was difficult for me to handle-my dream would be to see Joni in a setting that holds 200 people, rather than among the thousands who were at the Gorge. Obviously I don't have anything profound to add to the other reviews-it was cold, it was crowded, but for heaven's sake---it was Joni!
(From:Larry Papa, firstname.lastname@example.org)- Joni, I have always been a fan and love your music, but I never dreamed I would see what I saw Sunday May 17 in George, WA, at the Gorge. Spectacular lyrics, Guitar work!!!! and stage presence...THANKYOU THANKYOU THANKYOU!!!!!! Keep writing the new stuff .....it's great..Larry Papa , Bend, Oregon
Oh by the way, was that a Paul Reed Smith Guitar???? .
(From:Robert Stevens, email@example.com)-I was at the Gorge on Sunday It was an amazing treat for me. I play world blues music for a living. Taj was on my last CD.check ouit www.blueroosterproductions.com my new CD is "Reservation Blues" I was out west on a tour and just got lucky.I took my dad for his 60th birthday.
I never thought I would see Joni Live. I t was like seeing Billie Holiday or something. Bob was great too. I can't really begin to review the show as i was too much of a fan-drooling and what not. I loved her feeling she seemed very at ease and the bob impression was great. Woodstock was surreal.
I am working out sex kills for the lap steel guitar. Something i have been thinking about for a while. Any tab or sheet music around? i figured it out by ear but I always like to check other resources.
Sad news i waited 45 min to get a signed lithograph. Finally got it sandwhiched in card board laid it flat in the dry trunk and when we got back to the airport it had gotten wet all the way through. A real shame. Also alot of money for a blues guy like me. Needless to say the rental car company did nothing.
I wonder if you could tell me how I could obtain a poster from that show(the silver or gold 11x17 ones. I need some kind of undamaged momento from one of my greatest musical experiences ever.
(From: jenna johnson )-I am completely in awe. I basically paid the $50.00 price of admission to see my favorite drummer in the whole world, Brian Blade, play in front of a huge audience for a change. I am so used to seeing him in smaller clubs. I am completely indebted to him for turning me on to Joni's music. I see now what I have been missing and why she is so influential. She is without a doubt the classiest, most prolific performer that any "scene" has to offer. I know you said that she wasn't quite as "on" as Saturday, but I don't think I could have handled anything better. I do hope she tours again in support of her Sept. release. Thank you, Wally for doing such a wonderful interview with Brian, I am constantly searching the web for more info on him. Even Blue Note's page pales in comparison to your interview. By the way, his debut as a leader came out yesterday, it's fantastic! Brian thanks Joni in the liner notes for "Saving my life." What's that about? In addition to that, I bought two of Joni's disc's mentioned in that interview. The bad weather at the Gorge didn't phase me until after she was done. I wish I could have met you there to thank you in person.
Wally, you do a wonderful job. I'm glad you finally got to meet her!
Peace, soul and groove,
John M. Wicks
(From: WILLIAM G STOKES )-I went to the May 17th show, and I thought that it was simply great. Although I have never had the privledge of seeing Joni live before, I'm only 17 years old, I could tell that she was having a bit of a problem with the weather. She might not have been up to the same level as is the norm for her, but her voice and guitar were as pure and breath taking as I expected. I was really hoping that she would have had a piano with her, but I understand with the outdoor atmosphere and all. She sang the perfect mix of new and all ready released songs. The last song that she sang was "Woodstock." It was just her and her guitar on stage. With that beatiful version of the song I cought myself getting lost in the georgeus scenery of the river below the Gorge. It was unforgetable! Now I know that she isn't just a great recording artist, I know that she is a great performer. She also gained a new fan that night. My step-father, Bill, has become a fan of Joni's since then. It was a great experience, and now that I've seen her live my only other dream is to meet her in person. That's not likely, but I can always dream.
Thanks for your time,
(From: KEN HANCOCK )-What can I say. Joni is not only beautiful, talented, & unique but has become a cutural icon of our age. Odd to realize I've been listening to her music for over 30 years. My daughter, now 20, who attended the concert with me, was as facinated and pleased as I, to be there. After the concert, we both felt, "There is no one like Joni." I'd Love to see her again. Closer next time, we were high on the hill. The wind was blowing hard, causing my eyes to water a lot. Especially during Amelia. I often wonder if she has any idea of the number of lives she has touched in a very positive and personal way.
Thank you Joni
(From: Robert Lovitt )-i hadn't seen joni perform since 1976 in boston. her lyrics have been the ruler by which i take measure of much of my life, especially romance. i have grown older with her, thickened and matured with her. sometimes i have a recurring dream in which joni is playing at an outdoor concert and she closes with "woodstock". at that point she notices me in the audience and asks me to come up and jam along on flute. at the gorge, her encore number was "woodstock", she didn't ask me to the stage, but i was so thrilled to hear it, it didn't matter. yes she seemed a bit subdued and not very interactive with the crowd, but i loved her renditions of old songs and look forward to checking out her new album. "the best face lift is a smile" or something like that, is a bit trite. as a poet, i want to write with/for her! please send her my undying love, admiration and respect.
(From: Raincity )-Froze my ass off, security were fascist power freaks (handicapped acomodations abysmal, will never go to the gorge again), but ya know? Joni made it all worthwhile. I'd never heard Magdalene Laundries before and was blown away. BTW, can you tell me what she uses to get her sound? I could see the Parker Fly (Classic?) but what effects and through what sort of amplification. It was truly incredible. As she said "adios" I took off. Turns out Van didn't do Brown Eyed Girl anyway. Sick or not, Joni done great.
First Set: Bob Dylan
Second Set: Joni Mitchell
Third Set: Van Morrison
ERIC: Well tonight's concert was different in several ways.
1. Bob Dylan opened and Van closed. Dylan's set was quite different.
Yesterday Van played "My Way" in remembrance of Frank Sinatra. Not
2. There was a considerable amount of wind and it was colder. All the
musicians bundled up.
3. The concert started an hour earlier. This meant Joni played while it
was still light.
4. Joni played a similar set to Saturday night. She seemed to like playing
in the light because she could see everybody. On the otherhand, something
was causing static pops. The roadies asked Joni to take off her coat but
it did not solve the problem.
5. Joni's playing a similar set ended up causing me to "look around" at the
others a bit more than the night before. Her drummer, Brian Blade, is
really good! I also hadn't noticed that Greg Liesz played guitar on one
6. Some song intros were modified or different. No intro was given to
Magdalen Laundries -- see my Email on yesterday's concert.
7. The wind degraded the sound quality. Also, there were so many people
around me talking. Not just during Joni -- during everything. I don't know
if because my seats were different or for some other reason. They don't
talk in movies why at a concert. If it was only one person I would have
said something but when it is so many people, what can one do.
All told another wonderful night albeit not quite as magical as Saturday
night. Now back to the "real world". Too bad.
As far as some questions asked on the list:
1. What did Joni talk to the audience about? FOR EXAMPLES - SEE MY POST
YESTERDAY Was she talkative? MODERATELY
2. How did she introduce songs, or did she go right into them? VARIED --
3. Was their an encore? YES Did the three FOUR look chummy? MAINLY
FOCUSSED ON PLAYING BUT CERTAINLY GOT ALONG WELL.
4. Which song seemed to move her the most? HAVE TO ASK JONI -- I GOT NO
5. Which song did she have the most fun with? DITTO
6. Which other musicians/celebrities were in the audience? I DID NOT PAY
ANY ATTENTION TO THIS AND HAVE NO IDEA
7. Did she look worn out at the end or did you think she could have gone
on with more singing? TONIGHT HER VOICE SOUNDED A BIT WORN ON THE FIRST
2-3 SONGS BUT OTHERWISE SHE SEEMED OKAY. YES SHE MIGHT BE ABLE TO DO MORE
BUT I SORT OF DOUBT MUCH MORE THAN SAY 30 MINUTES. (WHY PUSH IT ANYWAY?)
Let me first preface this by saying:
1) I have never been to a more beautiful venue
2) I have only been colder at a concert one other time. That was seeing Rod
Stewart at Tiger Stadium with my close friend Barb in the rain
3) I am glad I went
there was pretty much a sustained 30 mph wind blowing diagonally from the
right rear of the stage to the left front along with some hefty gusts the
over head stage lights were swaying back and forth in lively fashion I dont
know what the ambient temperature on the stage was but it couldnt have been
that warm heaters or not sound quality was overall good considering the
conditions from my spot on the right side midhill the first verse of Joni's
first song sounded like it was oscillating almost as if it was coming out
of a leslie speaker on an organ but people are alot like machines get them
up to operating temperature and
they do just fine
the musical highlight for me Slouching Toward Bethlehem I wondered how the
key changes in the later part of the song would be done in one voice it was
a joy to listen to
on an artistic note, from my vantage point looking downward and on Joni's
right hand side viewing through quality binoculars, she started Harry's
House just as the phrase "heat waves on the runway as the wheels touch
down" reached me the wind must have shifted or something because Joni was
perfectly framed in crystal clarity and the heat waves from the butane
heaters surrounded the rest of my field of view to bad my eyes arent cameras
Sally wrote: Maybe in our desperation to
see/hear anything from Joni's graced instrument, we have sold ourselves,
and her, short. Just wondering.
I wanted to address this topic first. Mark & I, while at the
Gorge, had touched on this same issue when we met. Afterwards I
had some time to reflect on it - some random thoughts:
(1) This is the first time Joni has toured in many years. From
my understanding of things this is something that took the urging
of BD and the VG-8 to help her finally decide to do it.
(2) Testing the waters with the help of some long time friends
can be a real source of encouragement.
(3) Sometimes the view that is projected via the music business
world is distorted. Meaning record sales and the absence of air
time play could make one believe that the interest is not there.
(4) This might be a good time to get a handle or gauge on the
extent of the audience that would come to see and hear her with
out all the pressure being directed at her alone. A decade or
more is a long time to be out of the general conscience of the
main stream. It is one thing to get the Kudos from fellow
artist, as well deserved as it is. Quite another to present your
wares and keep your integrity to the music you want others to
experience with you. Esp. when that music is at times so far
removed from what most people are hearing on their radios and tvs.
As for us - many who have every thing from her that we can get our
hands and ears on:
(1) Yes, I too think that the ideal venue would have been a
smaller place that was more intimate and filled with (for the most
part) people who came just to hear and see her.
(2) But I must say this - Most of us were just too thrilled that
she was out there. Willing to see her live and let her know that
she does indeed have more than a few hangers on. That we are not
just hanging there but are attentive willing, and active
listeners who want more, more, more. More cd's, more live
concerts, more air play, That we helped to make others around us
take notice of the great works that she is offering. We clapped
hard, we shouted and whistled loud. As we walked around with our
T-shirts and denims we let others know what she means to us. As
we turned around and let others know that we came for Joni and we
wanted to hear who we came to hear.
No, I don't think that there was any short selling going on at
all. That is why when Kay combined words with action and sent a
letter to Joni's management, I said to myself, ' Yes, do that.
Let them know from all sources that Joni is loved. From those of
us that attended the concerts and from those who wished they could
have. All of us wanting a chance to see, hear, and show our love
for and to this artist and her music. Keep those letters going
out via e-mail, snail mail and any other source that can be used.
One of the real pleasures I got out of being at the concert was
talking to those around me about Joni's music. Taking them past
'Court and Sparks' or even having them share with me the time
they saw Joni in '76' or when ever. Saying to them, "But have you
heard this or that. Pick up this or that. You have to listen to
her music because it is not shallow in word or musical
arrangement." Taking some of the carnival atmosphere out of it so
they would be prepared to use their heads, ears and heart. In
return I got to hear some of the low and loud wows all around me.
Some touched me on my shoulder and did nothing more that show me
big smiles. Saying to me with out words - 'I would have missed
this if we had not talked'. Many handed me their binoculars
throughout her set so that I could relish this treat for the
first time. And with some there were hugs and tears shared. These
were people that I had not talked with in any form until meeting
them at the Gorge. I tingle when thinking about the joy that Joni
allowed all of us a chance to experience.
Sold short - for me, no way. Would I like to see her in a more
intimate setting? No question about it. But I tried to make the
best of what was offered at the time. I have many good memories
that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Along with the
hope that Joni got enough positive out of this tour to realize
that if she is booked in the right size venue she will sell it out
and be appreciated in the process.
"Black Crow" rocked with the passion of 20 year old.
Agreed, This to me was one of the songs that really showed off
her vocals as well as her musicianship. And rock it did.
Is live performance an artistic
creation or a live variation of a recorded event?
I think it certainly has elements of both to rely on. Esp. in
Joni's case and in regard to the set of concerts and future
concerts if any come to pass. Songs that she has moved away from
in time or in touch, take on a different shape in the now. With
elements of the new Joni and only shadows of the past Joni.After
the concert the first night. One of the guys I was talking to made
the statement: "Amelia sounded good but it was different from
what I was used to hearing." My reply was: " This is true, but
I didn't come here expecting Joni to impersonate herself. I
listen to see if the song is moving me this time around.
Expecting to be able to recognize it, yes, but expecting
different shading and textures. When I want to resurrect old
feelings I put on the LP or CD that incapsulized that time period
for me. I'm here to experience where she will take me with it
now. Does she still make me relate to the music? Yes, I can
honestly state that I was moved again in a different way than when
I first heard the song or the repeated listening via CD. Did I
treasure what she offered? You bet ya.
My hope once again is that we showed and will continue to show her
and her management that her own tour will be well worth the doing.
A smaller venue the right atmosphere for us to make her glow as
she makes us glow.
Once again, Mendi says it so well. I tried to express some of this in
my review. To me the variations from the recordings and past
performances only enhanced the experience and made it truly unique. If
I want to hear the songs exactly as they are on the records, well duh!
I'll put on the record! The thrill for me was knowing that Joni was
actually up there on that stage reinventing the songs and expressing how
she felt and thought about them right at that moment in time. We were
given the priveledge of actually witnessing the creative process instead
of just hearing the result. It was extraordinary and I'll never forget
it. True, it would have been nice to have heard and seen her in a more
intimate setting. The sound at the Gorge to me was kind of muddied, not
the crystalline sound Joni really should have. But it was good enough
to make for a wonderful experience of my favorite living recording
artist. Kudos to Mendi for educating some of her fellow concert-goers!
I wish I'd have had the foresight & courage to do the same.