A CHRONOLOGY OF APPEARANCES
Compiled by Simon Montgomery, © 2001
 

1998.10.30  Corel Center  Kanata, ON


» This Concert is a part of the 1998 Fall Tour of North America with Bob Dylan.

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Related articles from the Library:
» Few Nods To Nostalgia For Mitchell (Ottawa Citizen, 1998)
» Folk icons continue to work without dwelling on past (Ottawa Sun, 1998)
» Joni Mitchell's concert was great (Ottawa Citizen, 1998)
» There's no escaping the Sixties time warp (Ottawa Citizen, 1998)

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From JM.com's Official Reporter Brett Code

Joni's Set List (85 minutes)

Big Yellow Taxi
Just Like This Train
Night Ride Home
The Crazy Cries Of Love
Free Man in Paris
Harry's House
Black Crow
Amelia
Hejira
Don Juan's Reckless Daughter
Face Lift
Sex Kills
The Magdalene Laundries
Moon At the Window
Trouble Man
Comes Love
Woodstock

In the days leading up to this show, I worried about the extravagance of flying from Calgary to Toronto and Ottawa to see Joni play in hockey arenas filled with Dylan fans, wondered about whether it would be worth it. Being a true Sagittarian, of course, neither worry nor wonder would stop me from going. How could they? Joni's music has been with me since my early teens, guiding, loving, entrancing. She has known how I've felt, told me how to feel, to love, to think, to travel, to wonder. . . She's still doing it. Love Puts on a New Face is the story of where I am now, my best friend suffering from depression and anxiety, unable to travel, unable to enjoy the flamboyance of autumn leaves, unable - except occasionally - to be happy, leaving me with a deep helplessness , unable to be with me except physically, the world's jaws gnashing at her. And my love has had to put on a new face - no longer the happy, bubbly puppy love with which it began, it is metamorphosing into a mature, supportive friendship with an unknown future. Joni knows about that stuff; she is it. I thought, dismissing any lingering doubts, "She'll sing about it at these shows. And I'll be there." Besides, what if, despite all our hopes for a small venue tour, this is the last time? No Last Chance Lost for me; I've got to feel her music's resonance again, feel that live-performance trembling in my bones.

Guess what? No regrets, Coyote. Both shows were fabulous; I can't imagine spending money or time more effectively.

On the plane, I thought about Amelia and Hejira, both album and song. How does she know how I feel? How I've loved travelling with her, on each of the 1001 times I've flown with the Black Crow, travelled in that vehicle, and soared through the hexagram of the heavens.? Thankful was I that no one was sitting beside me on the plane, for how difficult it would have been to explain that I was crying, not for lost love or the passing of loved ones or some other reason that one might consider normal, but because I was once again being moved by Joni's music - even though it was only playing in my head.

Ottawa recently acquired a National Hockey League Franchise and the Corel Centre was built as part of the deal - without it, Ottawa had no chance of getting a franchise. Having no room in Ottawa proper, they built it in Kanata, what used to be a sleepy village about 15 miles west of Canada's capital city. They also built a highway to get to it - four lanes, lots of traffic, lots of people going to see - who? Joni? Driving out there, I'm quietly hoping that this is not going to be another of those irritating Waiting for Bobot performances by the audience - where the unbelievable is happening on stage while uncomprehending reprobates mock, fidget, chew gum, and chatter aimlessly, moronically. Along the road, beautiful rolling hills, well-manicured farms, scenic, peaceful Ottawa river bordered by large trees with colorful leaves well past their prime - then, an oasis of light in a now forgotten meadow - big arena, surrounded by huge parking lot - of course, they paved paradise. And they charged $9 just for a little rectangle of pavement.

Before Corel bought sponsorship rights to the arena, it was called The Palladium. It seats just under 20,000 for a hockey game. It's a hockey arena, so there was no reason to expect brilliant sound, but it is shaped like a roman pavilion amphitheatre. When I looked around at the large empty space, I felt a hope that the music would resonate symphonically off the arena's curves, rather than simply echo, as it did off the square, jutting walls of Maple Leaf Gardens the night before. While it turned out not exactly to be a night at the symphony, the sound was clear, crystal clear by comparison with Maple Leaf Gardens. I'm sure Joni was pleased with it.

The crowd was smallish, 9 to 10,000, and ranged widely in age. I was surprised that there did not seem to be a large proportion of folksy, hippy types as there had been in Toronto. The majority seemed to be from 20 to 40, ready and willing to shout and dance to the echoes of Tangled Up in Blue and Highway 61 Revisited. I was hopeful that most were there to see Joni - this is, after all, a government town - most people here would have grown up on Joni, boomer bureaucrats with lots of time, decent incomes and great pensions. Joni sings about their lives, too. I was not disappointed. This was a crowd of joniphiles. I heard almost no dissatisfaction or impatience with her set - their wrapt attention and loud applause caused Joni to smile and laugh on several occasions.

I had a great seat - Row 2, Centre on the floor - but, as I was to photograph during songs 3 and 4 (no photographs were allowed even during the band introduction, let alone song 2, as had been done in other venues), I was standing off to the side of the stage for her introduction.

She walked on stage at 8:30, her face and hair glowing. Was that a swagger I saw or merely the complacent strut of an artist imbued with confidence - no longer the blonde in the bleachers but the main event, taming the tiger? She looked tremendously poised, confident and comfortable, reminding me of my yoga teacher - I just hoped the audience was open to her evolutionary set, from old to new and back again. Opening the show with Big Yellow Taxi was a brilliant way to capture the audience's attention. While the jmdler in me would have preferred a stirring version of The Judgement of the Moon and Stars or A Case of You, the fan in me loved the way this song played to non-Joni fans, bringing them to her, sucking them in to her aura. Once they're there, she can, like Miss Liberty, shine on them the light of her music, poetry and vision. [Oh, how I wish she had played Song For Sharon!]. The levity and humour of singing a verse in Dylan's voice is a good trick, too - she's a barker at the midway employing a ruse to lure the unsuspecting audience out on the vast and subtle plains of her mystery. Big Yellow Taxi was welcomed with screams of approval. As the reviewer for the Ottawa Sun said, "however, as was to be the case all night, Mitchell gave the tune a slap on the butt with jazzy and even hip-hoppish tinges creeping into the delivery." It was magic and she cast a spell that lasted long into Dylan's raucous set.

Just Like This Train was soulful, full of feeling. I didn't catch the reaction of the crowd, however, as I was overtaken by nerves. I'm not much of a photographer and wasn't even using my own camera this night - I had 2 songs, maybe 10 minutes to do something which even experienced photographers classify as tricky and difficult. I had been coached a bit, so I set the camera, fiddled with it a bit, and hoped it did its job, because I've got to say, I was not really thinking down there in the pit.

Despite my hopes for a close encounter with Joni as has occurred for other jmdlers on this tour, I never got close. I even rehearsed what I would say and remembered what my friend said : "Tell her you love Hejira - tell her to come to Calgary because I can't travel - tell her you love her." I didn't get to say those things to her or get her to sign my cd booklets from Hejira and Turbulent Indigo (which I carried around with me for two full days - just in case), but I got pretty close. I was in the pit in front of the stage with a couple other newspaper photographers - 10 feet away, with a telephoto lens. Her face brightly lit, a moon at the window, was right there - amazing! There was a time when I didn't want to get close to Joni, when, for me, only the music mattered and I feared that knowledge of her, her life, her foibles, her wrinkles would destroy the magical creation my mind had invented over the years. Now, I wanted to see her. I did, and it was so cool. Seeing her smile as she introduced her band, laugh as a guy in a white suit and a white top hat (yes, same guy who had been in Toronto the night before) bowed and delivered her a bouquet of roses and then concentrate as she prepared to play Night Ride Home was a special moment that I won't soon forget. When she sang "I love the man beside me", I thought: " I love this woman above me", and time stood still. Through the two songs, the end of which I understood only by the tug of the security guy on my sleeve, I only managed to shoot about 30 photos, and I remember shooting only about 5 of them. This was all too overwhelming for me. Someone with less tendency to emotion and abstraction should have been where I was. But I wouldn't have traded it for anything.

I remember one other thing from my time in the pit - Brian Blade's smile. I think he may have been as happy as I was to be that close to Joni - there was a spark and a joy that could light up a room - really impressive.

For me, the rest was denouement. I missed Free Man in Paris and Harry's House as I was escorted out by the arena staff and took my camera back to the car (wasn't allowed to keep it at my seat).

I came back for Black Crow - what a great song. I did not notice in Vancouver that she has changed the lyrics somewhat. Instead of "In search of love and music/My whole life has been/Illumination . . . .", she sings "In search of 'truth and beauty'/My whole life has been" - the reference to Keats a seeming acknowledgement of the shift in her point of view and her present inclination to compare herself with history's great artists. Black Crow was fantastic - the band rocked, Joni danced, and the crowd cheered.

Amelia and Hejira were atmospheric. I'm still not sure whether I actually heard her play them and heard how she played them or simply heard them the way I always do, internally, metaphysically - the message different each time depending on the context and circumstances. One thing that struck me was how much more authoritative she sounded on the subjects of those two masterpieces. I once heard Robertson Davies say that one should read the great books 3 times: once at a young age, once at the age the author wrote the work, and once later in life when experience has had a chance to give one the perspective necessary to either understand or determine whether the author understood. The same must apply to poets (please forgive me if I don't accede to her recent I've-always-been-a-painter-first pretensions; to my mind, Joni's a poet and a musician who also paints and, like all of us, does many other things with more or less success) playing their music, for her serenity and poise during these two songs really seemed to embody and emote the words, images, ideas and thoughts of these two songs. She now really understands what she probably only felt or suspected intuitively in her thirties when they were written. Love's longings and deceptions and all the rest are deeply felt and passionately delivered.

Don Juan's Reckless Daughter was fun, lively and took the crowd where they've never been before. After a few seconds, she stopped playing, asked us to "Hold On", and said that they were just learning it. She quickly got going again and it was great. The light on her and her band was a bright yellow, suggestive possibly of the bright yellow of wheat on the prairies she's singing about. Perhaps that's a stretch - the yellow may just be an expression of the joy she feels in delivering a thoughtful and perceptive song in such an uplifting manner to such a receptive audience. In the back of her mind must linger disappointment that this song, like Talk to Me, Paprika Plains and the others, just did not get heard. So many of us, myself included, could have benefitted by hearing them. She was obviously having fun as she gave a funny voice to the split tongued spirit - a voice somehow reminiscent of the waitress in The Last Time I Saw Richard on Miles of Aisles.

Face Lift, which she again introduced as 'Happiness is the Best Face Lift', was nice. She introduced it by saying something like: "This is a pre-Christmas Christmas song. It's for mothers and daughters. Mothers never let up!"

My favourite song in both Vancouver and Toronto was Sex Kills. The power and feeling of this band brings a life and resonance to that song which simply doesn't come through on the album. Unfortunately, this night, it was subdued. After it, I felt a slight tinge of disappointment that she hadn't been angered by hecklers as she was in Indianapolis just before delivering Sex Kills. Ironically, it was not heckling but shouts for songs from Blue that seemed to cause her to let down a little. She had only just begun her introduction of it, describing Ottawa as a political town, when she was interrupted by the shouts. She stopped, told them that she was sorry but she didn't have a dulcimer or a piano and that this was a guitar set. It remains one of the most moving songs in the set, and I think Joni is really proud of it. At the end, she threw a big smile Larry's way and flipped her hair vigorously.

She introduced The Magdalene Laundries with a comparison of the laundries and witch hunts. She spoke of the witch hunts as an example of Christians try to purge paganism from the land of the free and to replace natural remedies, potions and world views with their own "truths". She then said that it appeared that the witch hunts continued in Ireland right up until 1972 in Ireland with the Christians trying to purge from their midst women who had committed "crimes" with which they disagreed. After mentioning the usual litany of punishable acts, she said something like: "Hundreds of women were forced to do the nuns' scrubbing for life for crimes no greater than being attractive in a small town." In rendering The Magdalene Laundries, Joni reached the height of her emotional expression for the night. She radiates a kind of venomous hatred for those nuns and their sentences of dreamless drudgery; she spat out "Oh charity", the 'Oh' sounding more like a grunted 'ugh'. Unlike most of the other songs, which she finished by smiling either at the audience or at her band members, she finished this one with the slumped posture of one who has given up a piece of her soul. Her head bowed solemnly, she backed up a few steps and appeared to let out a sigh. I would not be surprised if there was a tear or two her eyes. Any one who didn't feel the sadness, horror and disdain expressed by this rendition of The Magdalene Laundries ought to have their pulse checked. Writing this now in the sterility of my hotel room, tears are forming; vitriol, building. It's a masterpiece. A large portion of the crowd did feel it; the applause was heartfelt - the silence of some must have been the result of the spell she cast.

Moon at the Window was a welcome relief, and, even though it's theme is not exactly light and easy, I think we all felt lighter at the end of it.

Trouble Man was a resounding success. It swung with a really lively rhythm, and people snapped their fingers, swayed and tapped. She seemed really pleased with the audience's big, loud cheer.

For Comes Love tonight, Joni didn't light up a cigarette. Something had gone out of her; she seemed sullen, didn't smile, and stepped to the back of the stage a couple times with her arms crossed. Who knows why - it could be simply that she had been told she was running out of time. When she came back on to do the Woodstock encore she said something like: "This is a slow song but I'll try to play it as fast as I can." She didn't. She played it marvellously, and it received a big hoot from the crowd once they recognized it.

And then it was over. Throughout Dylan's entire, frenetic performance, which was 'followed' by at least 7 'encores' after he purported to leave the stage for the first time, I felt let down. I did not want Joni's set to end. The right thing to do, in my opinion, is what I did the night before in Toronto - leave before Dylan takes the stage; let Joni's music resonate and feed your soul. Dylan's nuance-free rocking will drain it if you don't.

REPORTS FROM THE INTERNET COMMUNITY

(From:dreamboat7@hotmail.com)-'God, I'm going to be the youngest one there!' I thought as my friend Liz and I pulled into the parking lot. We were two of the youngest: fresh, twenty-year-old faces in a sea of middle-aged yuppies and parents.

My love for Joni Mitchell is new. NIGHT RIDE HOME captivated my heart in 1991 and since then I've been addicted to her music. Missing this concert would have been sacrilege and I'm thankful I didn't.

We browsed around and took a gander at the merchandise for sale. Joni's material included an assortment of three t-shirts: Taming The Tiger and Turbulent Indigo with Joni's corresponding self portraits on the front and a black t-shirt with the caption, "Happiness is the best facelift" written in white. There were also two prints of each of her self portraits available, signed or unsigned. The unsigned prints went for $100 Canadian and the signed ones were double that. I got myself one of each t-shirt for $35 each. It was my first concert so I decided to splurge!

Once in my seat, I was biting my nails waiting for the opening act to finish up (a cowboy act from Missouri). After a brief intermission, the lights went low and Joni was brought out on stage. The crowd gasped a little - 'Oh my God! This is JONI MITCHELL!!' She looked radiant wearing a wine-red skirt and velvet chemise. Her hair was golden and shoulder-length, wavy and alive. I INSTANTLY snatched up my binoculars (my seat wasn't as great as...but they were good enough).

Seeing her in the flesh was a feeling I can't describe. My heart leapt for her and I couldn't help but grin widely. I was soon swept up in the cheers of the audience.

Then BIG YELLOW TAXI started. WOW! Joni swivelled her hips about and tapped her sandal-clad feet, standing firmly and proudly in the spotlights. The audience was riveted.

As the set progressed, however, I became aware of the disinterest around me. I was sitting in a row of OBVIOUS Dylan fans who sat with their arms crossed, frowning. I didn't let it get to me. Two of the men I was sitting next to had the audacity to get up and leave mid way through the fifth song. The well-mannered behaviour perceived by Brett (the tour reporter) did not extend to the bleachers, where groups of people were having full-blown conversations, laughing and munching nachos. I wanted so badly to be with the REAL Joni fans. They were around me, but scattered.

I didn't let the grumpy Dylan fans take away from the concert. FREE MAN IN PARIS, JUST LIKE THIS TRAIN, NIGHT RIDE HOME, CRAZY CRIES OF LOVE, FACELIFT, SEX KILLS and THE MAGDALEINE LAUNDRIES had my heart in some kind of trance. After twenty five minutes I realized that I had been clenching the binoculars to my eyes the entire time, watching it all up close.

MOON AT THE WINDOW, TROUBLE MAN and COMES LOVE were just stupendous, even if Joni did seem a little miffed by something, standing in the shadows looking forlorn. She put down her VG8 and infused these songs with all the jazzy energy her marvelous voice could muster, that I couldn't help but shout as the goosebumps assailed my calves!

Joni received a well-deserved standing ovation at the end and leaned in to the mic, saying "That's all folks" a-la Porky Pig. She soon reappeared for an encore. Singing "Woodstock", the crowd fell silent once again, haunted by her smoldering alto.

I left after Joni's set, desperate to keep the moment fresh in my mind. There were only a few of us who didn't stay for Dylan and we all seemed to congeal in the parking lot sharing some kind of unspoken camaraderie, as if we all knew that leaving now was the best thing to do. And it was. Her performance is still fresh in my mind, unmarred by Dylan's sedate presence.

I dreamed of Joni that night and her stellar performance. I consider myself extremely lucky to have seen such a legend.

Still I couldn't help but think how wonderful it would have been if Joni had been solo in a smaller, more-intimate concert hall such as the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. The chip stands and beer didn't seem suited to fit Joni's high-class stylings, and neither did the sour old Dylan boys who languished impatiently through her songs.

It was a night to remember and I'll hold the experience dear to my heart forever.

Sincerely,
Andrew Ritchie
(21 year-old Ottawa resident)

(From:zvacekbr@potsdam.edu)-

Kanata (Ottawa) Ontario, Friday, October 30

This concert is not the type of event that I have the opportunity to attend regularly. For me, music has always had more than entertainment value for me, as I make my living as a jazz educator, composer & performer-so as a result, I tend to listen and watch very critically and attentively. And quite frankly, what I saw on Friday night at the Corel Center blew me away.

My initial exposure and attraction to Joni's music came through jazz influenced projects such as Mingus and Shadows and Light. Later, my wife Melinda (who is a pianist & guitarist and a card carrying Joni-ologist) turned me on the remainder of Joni's recorded work.

The show began promptly at 7:30 (which was impressive, as venues like this usually start late). The opening band, Dave Alvin & The Guilty Men, played a spirited set consisting of some pleasant originals and a stunning remake of an old English love ballad (whose title escapes me at the moment, sorry). The sound was tweaked a bit during their set (which is one of the reasons you have a warm up band). Dave Alvin's voice bore a strong resemblance to Kris Kristofferson. After a 40-minute set, The Guilty Men yielded the stage.

The Corel Center crowd greeted Joni with a heartfelt standing ovation, which seemed to please her. Big Yellow Taxi was performed solo, and almost immediately I was taken with the quality of the sound of Joni's Roland VG-8 guitar. Flawless intonation and crystal clear quality was evident. The guitar was mixed in stereo in the arena sound system, giving an even broader audio spectrum to the experience. All the audio/technical aspects aside, what was even more impressive was Joni's sense of time. Her rhythmic energy and forward motion is on par with any jazz player I've seen.

The set was performed expertly in every way. Joni's diction was immaculate, every lyric was clear. Her individual guitar technique was a joy to watch and hear (forgive me, but I didn't know she was such a great guitarist also), as she effortlessly played chordal accompaniment, bass lines, and interior melodies simultaneously.

From an ensemble point of view, Joni and Brian Blade were clearly the core of the band. Brian Blade's musicianship is formidable (he performed in concert with Josh Redman a couple of years ago here at the college where I teach). He was, in a word, perfect for her; great touch, beautiful cymbal technique, and totally committed to her and the music. Greg Leiss provided appropriate background textures on steel, and made solid contributions on guitar (Sex Kills in particular). Chris Botti's trumpet was inaudible much of the time, although his solo on Trouble Man sounded like it has always been there; frankly, I missed the melodic agility of the soprano saxophone. Larry Kline's contribution to the band is a bit harder to pin down. Although he certainly looked like an indispensable part of the band, much of the time he spent wallowing indistinctly in the same register that Joni was already covering by herself (while playing chords, counterpoint and singing at the same time). Kline managed some useful moments during Hejira, but on the whole was ineffective.

Regarding other aspects of the event: The Corel Center was immaculate, and the staff was helpful and courteous. The audience was courteous and attentive, providing enthusiasm and attentiveness at the right times.

It was an honor to see this artist perform live. I once heard an interview where she described her music more as art song rather than folk song. It's not a stretch to liken Joni to a 20th century Schubert, when considering the tonal and text painting aspects combined with the emotional/intellectual aesthetic of her music. As far as her individual musicianship was concerned, I would put Joni Mitchell on the same level as any of the fine classical and jazz performers I've seen over the years (including Alfred Brendl, Keith Jarrett, Miles, Wayne & Jaco to name a few). To sum it up: a great show by a great artist.

Oh yeah, there was another band on after Joni. Bob Dylan rocked, we danced, our ears hurt, we had a ball.

Bret Zvacek
Potsdam, NY


1st Set: Dave Alvin and the Guilty Men
2nd Set: Joni Mitchell
3rd Set: Bob Dylan

JMDL Member Comments

Ted (from the Dylan list): This will not be a cool and dispassionate review by one carefully weighing the pros and cons of last night’s performance. Basically what you have here is your unadulterated fan of 30 plus years who went to soak in all the glory of Bob Dylan coming to town and came away with a smile on his face.

To set the mood the skies had turned clear and dry and after the sun set the horizon turned one of those "they must of touched up the photo’" shades of orange. A ‘v’ shaped formation of Canada geese drifted across the sky. It was your basic Girl Of The North Country kind of evening.

I got in early. My seat was on the floor, centre, 14th row. I brought along binoculars which were attached to my forehead BORG-like for about a third of the evening. I was completely assimilated.

Dave Alvin and band cranked it up right on time at 7:30. They delivered some funky rock and roll with a bit of steel guitar country & folk blended in. The audience was polite and supportive. He’d finish one song and then quickly move into the next before the applause had died down. They looked to be having a good time; a big smile on the keyboard players face. People were not familiar with his stuff so that made it a bit harder. He did one tune (I think his own) that turned into a medley that included ‘If you ain’t got the Do Re Me’ and "Promised Land". It was great and got things rocking. He followed this with the title tune off of his latest CD, ‘BlackJack David’. Also great!! They played for about forty minutes.

There was a brief intermission and then the true Girl Of The North Country came on stage. Joni Mitchell looked great. She began her set just herself and her guitar. She was dressed in a long orange cranberry velvet outfit. She looked very comfortable swaying to the different rhythms of her music.

A very interesting instrument she was playing. It looked like an electric, a nice dark wood, but I believe it had a midi out option. What you were hearing was definitely guitar but I think it gave her more control over just what sounds she was getting out of different strings. She was getting great bass presence out of the low E. I found myself looking around to see if a bass player was accompanying her. It was very expressive.

She started in with ’Big Yellow Taxi’. The crowd was with her all the way. Through her set she sprinkled in a number of old familiars such as Free Man in Paris and Woodstock. This was helpful to someone like me who is not that familiar with her newer material. Haunting textures. Jazz tones. A bit of rock. Varieties of rhythms. The drummer playing with brushes, mallets, his hands at times. Some great bass drum work. Hey, that’s something you don’t hear too often. A tight band.

This was a night of poets and her words came through clearly and passionately. ‘The streams of jets leaving trails like hexagrams across the sky’ (my paraphrase, sorry). Sex Kills. Happiness is the best Facelift. A song for mothers and daughters. Amelia. She was very comfortable. A couple of songs in a guy in a white tux followed by a guy in a cowboy hat paraded by the front of the stage and each brought her a rose. She seemed surprised and pleased and made a point of going to the front of the stage and picking them up after her last song. Not too much talk. She said she wasn’t going to talk too much so she could try and squeeze in another song in the time she had. She led into one song and then stopped it with a laugh saying that they were just learning it. Maybe something from her new CD. For one or two numbers she put down the guitar and just sang in the spotlight. Kind of bluey torch songs. The crowd loved it. Woodstock, just Joni and guitar, was her encore.


Brett: In the days leading up to this show, I worried about the extravagance of flying from Calgary to Toronto and Ottawa to see Joni play in hockey arenas filled with Dylan fans, wondered about whether it would be worth it. Being a true Sagittarian, of course, neither worry nor wonder would stop me from going. How could they? Joni's music has been with me since my early teens, guiding, loving, entrancing. She has known how I've felt, told me how to feel, to love, to think, to travel, to wonder. . . She's still doing it. Love Puts on a New Face is the story of where I am now, my best friend suffering from depression and anxiety, unable to travel, unable to enjoy the flamboyance of autumn leaves, unable - except occasionally - to be happy, leaving me with a deep helplessness , unable to be with me except physically, the world's jaws gnashing at her. And my love has had to put on a new face - no longer the happy, bubbly puppy love with which it began, it is metamorphosing int! o a mature, supportive friendship with an unknown future. Joni knows about that stuff; she is it. I thought, dismissing any lingering doubts, "She'll sing about it at these shows. And I'll be there." Besides, what if, despite all our hopes for a small venue tour, this is the last time? No Last Chance Lost for me; I've got to feel her music's resonance again, feel that live-performance trembling in my bones.

Guess what? No regrets, Coyote. Both shows were fabulous; I can't imagine spending money or time more effectively.

On the plane, I thought about Amelia and Hejira, both album and song. How does she know how I feel? How I've loved travelling with her, on each of the 1001 times I've flown with the Black Crow, travelled in that vehicle, and soared through the hexagram of the heavens.? Thankful was I that no one was sitting beside me on the plane, for how difficult it would have been to explain that I was crying, not for lost love or the passing of loved ones or some other reason that one might consider normal, but because I was once again being moved by Joni's music - even though it was only playing in my head.

Ottawa recently acquired a National Hockey League Franchise and the Corel Centre was built as part of the deal - without it, Ottawa had no chance of getting a franchise. Having no room in Ottawa proper, they built it in Kanata, what used to be a sleepy village about 15 miles west of Canada's capital city. They also built a highway to get to it - four lanes, lots of traffic, lots of people going to see - who? Joni? Driving out there, I'm quietly hoping that this is not going to be another of those irritating Waiting for Bobot performances by the audience - where the unbelievable is happening on stage while uncomprehending reprobates mock, fidget, chew gum, and chatter aimlessly, moronically. Along the road, beautiful rolling hills, well-manicured farms, scenic, peaceful Ottawa river bordered by large trees with colorful leaves well past their prime - then, an oasis of light in a now forgotten meadow - big arena, surrounded by huge parking lot - of course, they paved par! adise. And they charged $9 just for a little rectangle of pavement.

Before Corel bought sponsorship rights to the arena, it was called The Palladium. It seats just under 20,000 for a hockey game. It's a hockey arena, so there was no reason to expect brilliant sound, but it is shaped like a roman pavilion amphitheatre. When I looked around at the large empty space, I felt a hope that the music would resonate symphonically off the arena's curves, rather than simply echo, as it did off the square, jutting walls of Maple Leaf Gardens the night before. While it turned out not exactly to be a night at the symphony, the sound was clear, crystal clear by comparison with Maple Leaf Gardens. I'm sure Joni was pleased with it.

The crowd was smallish, 9 to 10,000, and ranged widely in age. I was surprised that there did not seem to be a large proportion of folksy, hippy types as there had been in Toronto. The majority seemed to be from 20 to 40, ready and willing to shout and dance to the echoes of Tangled Up in Blue and Highway 61 Revisited. I was hopeful that most were there to see Joni - this is, after all, a government town - most people here would have grown up on Joni, boomer bureaucrats with lots of time, decent incomes and great pensions. Joni sings about their lives, too. I was not disappointed. This was a crowd of joniphiles. I heard almost no dissatisfaction or impatience with her set - their wrapt attention and loud applause caused Joni to smile and laugh on several occasions.

I had a great seat - Row 2, Centre on the floor - but, as I was to photograph during songs 3 and 4 (no photographs were allowed even during the band introduction, let alone song 2, as had been done in other venues), I was standing off to the side of the stage for her introduction.

She walked on stage at 8:30, her face and hair glowing. Was that a swagger I saw or merely the complacent strut of an artist imbued with confidence - no longer the blonde in the bleachers but the main event, taming the tiger? She looked tremendously poised, confident and comfortable, reminding me of my yoga teacher - I just hoped the audience was open to her evolutionary set, from old to new and back again. Opening the show with Big Yellow Taxi was a brilliant way to capture the audience's attention. While the jmdler in me would have preferred a stirring version of The Judgement of the Moon and Stars or A Case of You, the fan in me loved the way this song played to non-Joni fans, bringing them to her, sucking them in to her aura. Once they're there, she can, like Miss Liberty, shine on them the light of her music, poetry and vision. [Oh, how I wish she had played Song For Sharon!]. The levity and humour of singing a verse in Dylan's voice is a good trick, too - she's a barker at the midway employing a ruse to lure the unsuspecting audience out on the vast and subtle plains of her mystery. Big Yellow Taxi was welcomed with screams of approval. As the reviewer for the Ottawa Sun said, "however, as was to be the case all night, Mitchell gave the tune a slap on the butt with jazzy and even hip-hoppish tinges creeping into the delivery." It was magic and she cast a spell that la! sted long into Dylan's raucous set.

Just Like This Train was soulful, full of feeling. I didn't catch the reaction of the crowd, however, as I was overtaken by nerves. I'm not much of a photographer and wasn't even using my own camera this night - I had 2 songs, maybe 10 minutes to do something which even experienced photographers classify as tricky and difficult. I had been coached a bit, so I set the camera, fiddled with it a bit, and hoped it did its job, because I've got to say, I was not really thinking down there in the pit.

Despite my hopes for a close encounter with Joni as has occurred for other jmdlers on this tour, I never got close. I even rehearsed what I would say and remembered what my friend said : "Tell her you love Hejira - tell her to come to Calgary because I can't travel - tell her you love her." I didn't get to say those things to her or get her to sign my cd booklets from Hejira and Turbulent Indigo (which I carried around with me for two full days - just in case), but I got pretty close. I was in the pit in front of the stage with a couple other newspaper photographers - 10 feet away, with a telephoto lens. Her face brightly lit, a moon at the window, was right there - amazing! There was a time when I didn't want to get close to Joni, when, for me, only the music mattered and I feared that knowledge of her, her life, her foibles, her wrinkles would destroy the magical creation my mind had invented over the years. Now, I wanted to see her. I did, and it was so cool. Seeing her smile as she introduced her band, laugh as a guy in a white suit and a white top hat (yes, same guy who had been in Toronto the night before) bowed and delivered her a bouquet of roses and then concentrate as she prepared to play Night Ride Home was a special moment that I won't soon forget. When she sang "I love the man beside me", I thought: " I love this woman above me", and time stood still. Through the two songs, the end of which I understood only by the tug of the security guy on my sleeve, I only managed to shoot about 30 photos, and I remember shooting only about 5 of them. This was all too overwhelming for me. Someone with less tendency to emotion and abstraction should have been where I was. But I wouldn't have traded it for anything.

I remember one other thing from my time in the pit - Brian Blade's smile. I think he may have been as happy as I was to be that close to Joni - there was a spark and a joy that could light up a room - really impressive.

For me, the rest was denouement. I missed Free Man in Paris and Harry's House as I was escorted out by the arena staff and took my camera back to the car (wasn't allowed to keep it at my seat).

I came back for Black Crow - what a great song. I did not notice in Vancouver that she has changed the lyrics somewhat. Instead of "In search of love and music/My whole life has been/Illumination . . . .", she sings "In search of 'truth and beauty'/My whole life has been" - the reference to Keats a seeming acknowledgement of the shift in her point of view and her present inclination to compare herself with history's great artists. Black Crow was fantastic - the band rocked, Joni danced, and the crowd cheered.

Amelia and Hejira were atmospheric. I'm still not sure whether I actually heard her play them and heard how she played them or simply heard them the way I always do, internally, metaphysically - the message different each time depending on the context and circumstances. One thing that struck me was how much more authoritative she sounded on the subjects of those two masterpieces. I once heard Robertson Davies say that one should read the great books 3 times: once at a young age, once at the age the author wrote the work, and once later in life when experience has had a chance to give one the perspective necessary to either understand or determine whether the author understood. The same must apply to poets (please forgive me if I don't accede to her recent I've-always-been-a-painter-first pretensions; to my mind, Joni's a poet and a musician who also paints and, like all of us, does many other things with more or less success) playing their music, for her serenity and poise during these two songs really seemed to embody and emote the words, images, ideas and thoughts of these two songs. She now really understands what she probably only felt or suspected intuitively in her thirties when they were written. Love's longings and deceptions and all the rest are deeply felt and passionately delivered.

Don Juan's Reckless Daughter was fun, lively and took the crowd where they've never been before. After a few seconds, she stopped playing, asked us to "Hold On", and said that they were just learning it. She quickly got going again and it was great. The light on her and her band was a bright yellow, suggestive possibly of the bright yellow of wheat on the prairies she's singing about. Perhaps that's a stretch - the yellow may just be an expression of the joy she feels in delivering a thoughtful and perceptive song in such an uplifting manner to such a receptive audience. In the back of her mind must linger disappointment that this song, like Talk to Me, Paprika Plains and the others, just did not get heard. So many of us, myself included, could have benefitted by hearing them. She was obviously having fun as she gave a funny voice to the split tongued spirit - a voice somehow reminiscent of the waitress in The Last Time I Saw Richard on Miles of Aisles.

Face Lift, which she again introduced as 'Happiness is the Best Face Lift', was nice. She introduced it by saying something like: "This is a pre-Christmas Christmas song. It's for mothers and daughters. Mothers never let up!"

My favourite song in both Vancouver and Toronto was Sex Kills. The power and feeling of this band brings a life and resonance to that song which simply doesn't come through on the album. Unfortunately, this night, it was subdued. After it, I felt a slight tinge of disappointment that she hadn't been angered by hecklers as she was in Indianapolis just before delivering Sex Kills. Ironically, it was not heckling but shouts for songs from Blue that seemed to cause her to let down a little. She had only just begun her introduction of it, describing Ottawa as a political town, when she was interrupted by the shouts. She stopped, told them that she was sorry but she didn't have a dulcimer or a piano and that this was a guitar set. It remains one of the most moving songs in the set, and I think Joni is really proud of it. At the end, she threw a big smile Larry's way and flipped her hair vigorously.

She introduced The Magdalene Laundries with a comparison of the laundries and witch hunts. She spoke of the witch hunts as an example of Christians try to purge paganism from the land of the free and to replace natural remedies, potions and world views with their own "truths". She then said that it appeared that the witch hunts continued in Ireland right up until 1972 in Ireland with the Christians trying to purge from their midst women who had committed "crimes" with which they disagreed. After mentioning the usual litany of punishable acts, she said something like: "Hundreds of women were forced to do the nuns' scrubbing for life for crimes no greater than being attractive in a small town." In rendering The Magdalene Laundries, Joni reached the height of her emotional expression for the night. She radiates a kind of venomous hatred for those nuns and their sentences of dreamless drudgery; she spat out "Oh charity", the 'Oh' sounding more like a grunted 'ugh'. Unlike mo! st of the other songs, which she finished by smiling either at the audience or at her band members, she finished this one with the slumped posture of one who has given up a piece of her soul. Her head bowed solemnly, she backed up a few steps and appeared to let out a sigh. I would not be surprised if there was a tear or two her eyes. Any one who didn't feel the sadness, horror and disdain expressed by this rendition of The Magdalene Laundries ought to have their pulse checked. Writing this now in the sterility of my hotel room, tears are forming; vitriol, building. It's a masterpiece. A large portion of the crowd did feel it; the applause was heartfelt - the silence of some must have been the result of the spell she cast.

Moon at the Window was a welcome relief, and, even though it's theme is not exactly light and easy, I think we all felt lighter at the end of it.

Trouble Man was a resounding success. It swung with a really lively rhythm, and people snapped their fingers, swayed and tapped. She seemed really pleased with the audience's big, loud cheer.

For Comes Love tonight, Joni didn't light up a cigarette. Something had gone out of her; she seemed sullen, didn't smile, and stepped to the back of the stage a couple times with her arms crossed. Who knows why - it could be simply that she had been told she was running out of time. When she came back on to do the Woodstock encore she said something like: "This is a slow song but I'll try to play it as fast as I can." She didn't. She played it marvellously, and it received a big hoot from the crowd once they recognized it.

And then it was over. Throughout Dylan's entire, frenetic performance, which was 'followed' by at least 7 'encores' after he purported to leave the stage for the first time, I felt let down. I did not want Joni's set to end. The right thing to do, in my opinion, is what I did the night before in Toronto - leave before Dylan takes the stage; let Joni's music resonate and feed your soul. Dylan's nuance-free rocking will drain it if you don't.

Joni's Set List (85 minutes)
Big Yellow Tax (solo)
Just Like This Train (solo)
Night Ride Home (Larry's song)
The Crazy Cries of Love
Free Man in Paris
Harry's House
Black Crow
Amelia
Hejira
Don Juan's Reckless Daughter
Face Lift
Sex Kills
The Magdalene Laundries
Moon At the Window
Trouble Man
Comes Love
Woodstock (encore)


Ann (from the Dylan list): At the Toronto show Joni was treated with incredible respect by all the fans, whether they be there for Dylan or for her... In Ottawa she was treated equally well, and you could tell it really shone through in her set, she bowed with her entire band at the end of the show, all their arms around each other and seemed to know that she was very appreciated. She was indeed, and I did thoroughly enjoy her set.

There was no stage rushing... Joni's set. ...the crowd were very receptive, you could hear a pin drop. She even gave us the story about Ireland and the Magdalene Laundries which was lovely. When she goofed up on one of the songs, she laughed and said "I am just learning this" and continued, I thought this was so cool.


Xplanet (from the Dylan list): For a while, we thought Dave Alvin and Joni Mitchell were onto a transportation theme evening: Dave covered trains and cars with a medley of 'Jubilee Train-Do Re Mi-Promised Land' and Joni opened with 'Big Tellow Taxi' 'Just Like This Train' and then saw and raised him with 'Amelia' (planes). Production values were low for worthy Dave Alvin, but Joni almost made you forget you were inside a hockey rink. After a few of the hits, she performed some newer stuff (Crazy Cries of Love, Harry's House, Magdalena Laundries, Sex Kills, Happiness is the Best Face Lift) which - while they were sophisticated musically and lyrically - and personal and lots of other Good Things, badly needed Hooks. Melodies. A few cries of "We Love You Joni" but mostly polite applause. And she could do with a new 'do. From 40 rows away, at least. Then she put down her awesome axe and stepped into the spotlight for an amazing cover of Marvin Gaye's Trouble Man.

And then 'Come Love,' which it turns out is the title of a CBC Joni special - Sunday November 8 at 9 pm Eastern. (Opposite X-Files premiere - thanks CBC). Anyone know who orginally wrote and sang this? The guy next to me groaned, 'Don't encourage her'.....Humph - no way to talk about one of our Cultural Icons)....Woodstock encore and within ten seconds, arena lights go on. No class a-tall.