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By Jody Serkes, Reporting for JoniMitchell.com
Conductor lifts his baton
The orchestra comes through
Light notes wave in
I purchase her portrait and her name
A woman with a wine glass stares at me with her known
I sit ten rows off to the side
The band members play
The lights lower
Anticipation, waiting for the moment of her entrance
For the ovation to unfold
Lights continue to dim
String section deepens
Everything is wrapped in blue lights
Joni walks in
Arms draped into a wondrous "winged thrill"
Smokey, deep, sensual, paced beautifully
The notes of a guitar wave out
"Where is my Will" "You're my thrill"
She speaks and testifies what we will hear tonight
She takes us through a romantic journey,
Some of us "a few times over!"
Back dropped by stage stars twilight
And the smokey bar essence
"A dream to call my own"
"Thrills" that I have never known
"When you smiled at me, that was how the spell was cast"
She talks of fantasy and reality
"Comes Love" nothing can be done,
"Comes a rainstorm, comes love"
Joni wraps herself up in a wondrous white dress and so becomes
As the orchestra beats out
That sparkle in your eyes is gone
Your smile is now a careless yawn
Incredible stage whiteness
Nat King Cole
"Answer me oh my love"
The next levels of loss pleading
Answer me my love
Bob Shepard's saxophone waves
In the background
"Case of You"
Stunningly stark and so penetrating
An older song so new
"Your in my blood like holy wine"
"Taste so bitter and so Sweet"-I could drink a case of you
And still be on my feet
The words spoken again
The poetess in the microphone to tell us
"I would still be on my feet (with fire)"
Joni has reached such a modicum of success
Few will ever know
There is a child like innocence with her still that shyly loves
The cheers from the audience's acceptance and complete devotion
For life and work.
"Lover comes home to me"
"Sometimes I'm happy"
Joni is high and swingin
Swingin those hips around like she does
That wonderful Joni sway
The tone of a wild jazz trumpet
"Don't worry bout me" I'll get along"
"just forget about me and be happy my love"
She comes back to the microphone
To talk with it, to love it, to sing to it, speak in it
Intermission I run to the car for the binoculars for the rest of the show
REPORTS FROM THE INTERNET COMMUNITY
Joni looked like she was having fun tonight. We greeted her with a standing ovation when she appeared the stage, wearing an elegant silver-grey satin gown with a self-cape, that she frequently wrapped around herself like she was at a campfire. The house was almost full but wasn't sold out, so I was able to sneak to the main floor during the second set wherein she wore the whimsical pleated black gown that billowed out at the knees, and later I was 3rd row front and center (on the floor) for the encore, Troubled Man. The main floor 'tis much better than the balcony! I think we all missed her guitar, but all love to see her enjoy her new endeavors which she has invited us to enjoy with her, as she has done throughout her career. I think she pretty much did the BSN album set beginning to end in order; then the next song was "Be Cool" (? title) and she swang. She said that "Be Cool" may be on her next new album with ex-hubby Larry Klein. Then did an orchestral version of "For the Roses" and later "Ludwig Song" which both blew me away. She told great intro stories to both of those songs.....Larry came up front to assist on bass with Hijira. (He's talented!) As she was leaving the stage, she somehow got a hold of a lit cigarette and was frantically dragging on it, and impishly said to the audience, "I'm still smoking after all of these years." You bet you are, Joni.
Sue Sidun, fan since 1975 (and saw Joni in Ann Arbor the '75-'76 school year) Chicago, IL
I saw Joni's concert tonight. This was the first time I have ever seen her in concert. I have been a fan since Ladies of the Cannon when I was in highschool.
I had the good luck of meeting her in person once in Newyork on the street. The year was 1979 and she was with an older black man (Charles Mingas?) I was so afraid being in her presence and not wanting to disturb her. I must of seemed like a blubbering fool as I stuttered 'mmmiss mmmitchell' I wanted to tell her how much her music had meant to me but I just said '...so when are you playing Newyork'. She politely told me some date but it was clear I hadn't impressed her. So now twentyone years later I'm in her presents again and want her to see me, to touch her, anything but of course this is a concert and I am alone and sorrounded by other fans. I wish I could see her without such a huge orchestra, which I felt sometimes overwhelmed her voice. Her voice in it's every nuance was so important to hear and the smaller softer sounds were often lost for the sake of grand orchestration. This aside her music selections and the orchestra were exciting to hear. Joni was exciting to watch and looked to be enjoying herself and the standing ovations she got all throughout the show. The evening felt classy;for an older sophisticated audience. I won't go into all her selections for the show, I'm sure the're listed by other fans but I thought the evening really came alive during her encores. She seemed especially confident for these numbers and the music used her wonderful way of singin jazz, blasting out quick and clear high notes and low deep notes probibly made stronger by all her years of smoking. I left the concert moving toward the back of the theatre building hoping for a glimps, a contact, a chance to say how much I appreciated her, but she was gone, off to the Ritz Hotel
Joni looked beautful, sounded even more beautiful. Her voice was strong and in tune. She absolutely and literally glowed. She is having so much fun standing in front of all that sound. And it is a BIG sound. I think she enjoyed her encore song "Trouble Man" the best of all, she loves to groove with a cigarette in hand.
I thought of Wally and how unfair life is. He deserved more than any of us to witness and experience this new phase of Joni's musical odyssey. Back in the pre-web days, Joni fans were isolated from each other in little islands all over the world. Finding a fellow Joniphile was a rare experience. Wally brought us together and gave us so much, and I think he did alot for Joni too (just my humble opinion). So I was proud to bring his spirit into the theater.
"Judgement of the Moon & Stars" was the highlight for me. I choked back the tears on that set. She added an air piano which was electrifying. I would love to see that on video.
Marlene - Highland Park, IL
I saw her in L.A. for Miles of Aisles tour and with Bob Dylan in Chicago two years ago. Wish I could have seen her many more times. I was a little disappointed that the orchestra overwhelmed her at times and the endings of many songs were 'the same' - she would end the lyrics and they would play on for a tad too long. Mr. Klein on guitar could have played many more numbers - he's great with her. But overall it was superb!! I think she's tired near the end of this tour and she sipped water very often so I think her voice was troubling her. She was acerbic, as usual, but always hitting the nail on the head. My biggest recommendation is to get a new wardrobe - the outfits were distracting in their design and drape. She didn't seem comfortable in them either. I saw the pix of the Boston outfit which was even more outrageous than Chicago - Yikes! She's had such a strong influence on my life. Her music is the soundtrack of my life-movie. More power to you, strong and beautiful one!!
Saw Joni last night! She looked great and does justice to the Torch Songs of Etta James real and the genre. However, she needs to incorporate more of the Blue Album and Court & Spark into the act. After all, that's what the fans are there to see and hear!
Maybe in the encore Joni can add a medley of ....California, Big Yellow Taxi, Twisted, etc. and then the fans would all walk away happy! Where is the real Joni? Grab your guitar, lose the 50 piece orchestra, you don't need it! " Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got till it's gone?"
Catherine M. Sullivan
My wife and I started listening to Joni in the mid 70"s. She was... at once... musically... important to us; speaking to US... directly... about her issues. As she continued her education we were carried along with her... introduced to different forms and variations...textures of musical expression. It was MUSIC 101 and embodied so many of our own feelings that we were sure that she was speaking directly to us (drugs heighten this effect). Then the music progressed and we had to hurry to keep up. Every new album required an assimilation time before apreciation set in. But, appreciation did arrive and now those albums express a decade of experiences, sometimes painful, mostly full of bliss. Personally, they evoke the high deserts of New Mexico with it's spare landscape and unique light.
Now , we feel that we're in a master class and we're hurryng to catch up again but we trust the teacher now and we trust that we will catch up, eventually. What that means is that Joni was unusual tonight, did unexpected things, caught us unawares, shifted our universe and was SEXY while she did it!!!!!! Her air guitar and piano while singing the set touched us like nothing before. Those expressive hands dancing on air were evidence of the spirit... alive in Joni Mitchell. Afterwards, we cruised Chicago and played Joni Mitchell CD's untill the early hours. Perfect!!!!
Joni's music and powerful presence were thrilling to see last week at the Rosemont Theater. Like Sue, I also saw Joni in Ann Arbor in the 70s. I remembered a thin blond woman in a tie-dye outfit alone on stage with a guitar and piano.Now she comes as the mature poet and painter of words and chords and melody nearly 30 years later. The quality of her vocals -- and her endurance -- were wonderful. We were treated to a very long first set, and a second set with several additional pieces not on the program for the evening. Likewise, the orchestra kept up with her, although I was frankly disappointed by the brass section who played off-key several times. But Joni was, indeed, radiant, charming, down-to-earth, and well able to connect with us through story, song, and monologue. She was able to create an intimacy even in a space like Rosemont. I feel graced -- especially by her rendition of "Both Sides Now," which, much as in the TNT Friends broadcast, took on a poignancy sung by Joni now and arranged so richly with deep cello strings droning beneath her words. For behind each note and word now lies the lived experience of these same decades. For many of us who have traveled these years together, and who have had our own passions, dreams and disappointments, this song truly carried the spirit of these times. And yet, the song is still her own: it remains a testimony to her experience so graciously shared with us in all its strength and vulnerability. Thank you, Joni, for a great night.
Barb O'Neill, Chicago, IL
I was very sorry to read in Valerie's account that the Michigan show [on the 31st]
was delayed and truncated due to Joni's late plane--and tarnished
somewhat, perhaps, by loud, unappreciative audience members. But I echo
Phyllis's sentiment that the Chicago audience was extremely respectful.
They/we gave Joni a standing ovation just for walking out on the stage! And
I think there was at least one more, if not more, during the show.
Yes, the response was loudest and most enthusiastic for Joni's own songs,
both from the BSN cycle, and the handful she performed directly afterward.
But I got the feeling that most of the audience knew what to expect, and
were not let down by the show. (I even heard one woman in the rest room
beforehand tell another, "Now you know what this is about, right? She has a
new album, and . . . ).
A few random observations: I'm always amazed at how much more powerful
Joni's voice seems--to me, at least--live, as opposed to recorded. And
Tuesday night's concert was no exception. Unfortunately, the sound system
was as "harsh" as the published review sent to the list yesterday said it
was, and it pitted Joni against the orchestra on a couple of occasions.
Once, there even seemed to be some substantial feedback while she was
Joni reached for the water glass often, and because of that, I was a little
worried about her voice, but, if she was experiencing difficulty or pain, it
really didn't show in her performance.
The banter at this show was similar to what has already been posted from the
other concerts, although her manner with the audience was very easy, and the
remarks didn't seem "canned." She introduced "Answer Me, My Love" by saying
that, when you get to this juncture in a relationship, "there are many ways
you can go. I chose to plead. And the best pleading song I knew was a Nat
King Cole song." Then she preceded "A Case of You" with, "when pleading
doesn't work, most people head to the bar. There are many 'weeping in your
beer' songs. I chose one of mine." These remarks seems to reinforce her
comments on the Rosie O'Donnell show that she sees this song cycle as
chronically a change with "Answer Me, My Love," followed by a succession of
songs describing different options after that point.
Joni also made a comment, before "Comes Love," to the effect that, while she
had been raised on fairy tales, her grandson was being raised in "harsh
reality." She appeared to be highlighting generational differences. Even
so, it was heartwarming to hear the reference to Marlin, dropped so casually
into the conversation. Finally, she told an amusing but biting story about
Beethoven being suckered into pandering to popular taste by inserting the
national anthems of England and France in a composition, only to wind up
becoming famous, at the time, for this, "the worst piece of shit he ever
wrote." She got a good laugh for that one, but the meaning of the story, in
the middle of her "I hate show business" set, was obvious.
I was in awe, as usual, with Joni's phrasing, and noted that it was
especially good on "Don't Worry 'bout Me."
For "Sometimes I'm Happy," Joni was bathed in yellow light, which was quite
For the first half of the show, Joni was dressed in a light blue version of
an outfit that I think she also wore, in a different color, at another show:
the skirt was sheer, the blouse was set off from the skirt at the waist, and
there was a cape which Joni sometimes wrapped around herself while singing.
For the second half, she wore the black (or silver?) pleated dress that
flares out from the waist to the knees, looks triangular--and which, for the
life of me, I don't quite "get"!
Finally, thoughts on the songs. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the
BSN cycle. The orchestra was good, and Joni really seems to have the
interpretation on these songs down (despite still using the "cheat sheet" on
"I Wish I Was In Love Again"). As for Joni's songs: "Be Cool," which I've
neither loved nor hated, but sort of liked, in lukewarm fashion, worked
quite well in the orchestral setting. Surprisingly, for me anyway,
"Judgment of the Moon and Stars" did not: too bombastic and Wagnerian, with
Joni shouting the lyrics, emphasizing the strand of this song which pities
the poor suffering artist, and de-emphasizing, I thought, the strand that
I've always found much more appealing: advice to an individual, artist or
not, facing a great, life-altering, potentially shattering crisis. This is
most effective when done quietly.
And again somewhat surprisingly, "For the Roses" *did* work: although the
presentation here with full orchestra was very different from the solitary
guitar accompanying lyrics like "singing your simple sorrow to the
soundhole and your knee," there was enough there musically for the orchestra
to take it and create something new with, even something as basic as the
rising scales before the musical (and emotional) letdown.
And that's it from your unofficial Chicago correspondent!
Subject: Chicago's Standing O's
first one: when she entered. I think she was taken a bit aback. I
would guess it was about a minute.
second one: after ACOY. Personally, I don't like this arrangement but
the song is amazing. In any case, we stood and applauded like monkeys.
third one: after BSN. Personally, I think this is an amazing version
of the song and think she sings it beautifully. It continues to move
fourth one: after FTR. When she was off-stage.
fifth one: after Trouble Man. The end.
I have a vague recollection of some people standing after one of the
standards (Comes Love?), or was it Be Cool? But no mass audience
It was all worth it, for those of you who recall the frenzy Ms. Phyliss and I
were in planning our Chicago date. If I only had one thing to say to JM, it
would be "I expected nothing less." Being my second time around for BSN (and
seeing JM live for that matter), I wasn't as choked up as I was at the LA
concert. Not to diminish the performances - as others have reported on the
show, it was much better than the opening night. Practice makes the perfect
Our excellent seats and my ability to not fixate on JM afforded me the
opportunity to watch the process of the concert much more carefully. One
observation was the string section not being used for Be Cool. I loved
watching non-playing orchestra members smiling and toe-tapping to Be Cool.
Most looked like they were really enjoying themselves. I REALLY enjoyed the
orchestra this go round. They really do an excellent job, given the limited
rehearsal time they were provided. Also this time around, I really liked
Ludwig's Theme which I failed to appreciate in LA.
I echo Mary's sentiments about Laura and Jody. What a couple of great gals.
They had us all organized to have fun. And we did. They cracked me up.
When discovering that JM was staying at the Ritz-Carlton downtown, they were
all over that place. Back with information that only JM had retained her
room (in hindsight, she should have moved on to Detroit!) they scoured the
local hotels to find Klein. They had it covered!
For me, the best part of the trip was meeting more listers, besides the
incredible gal pals. It was a blast! I know I am forgetting some, but
Reverend Vince, Patti Smith's Michael, Dressed-up Mary, Joni-Blessed Richard,
Always On Steve, Very Cute Doug, and the traveling Dutchman made me feel
especially welcome in my second favorite city's suburbs. I hope all of you
make it to LA someday, so I can show you around.