Performing Arts: Joni Mitchell

by Harry Sumrall
Washington Post
August 23, 1979

As the opening chord was struck at last night's concert, a pale spotlight illuminated the figure of Joni Mitchell. Like the goddess of ice, Mitchell was remote. But beneath the facade of coldness lurked warmth and emotion and a sense of vulnerability that softly shaded her performance.

At times, she lashed out, with harsh vocals and lyrics that mirrored the heavily electrified versions of many of her most popular songs. Then, standing alone, she became calm and introspective.

Her show (which will also be presented tonight) was like her music, with shifting layers of mood and feeling. She allowed her musicians to display their musical wares, with Jaco Pastorius unleashing a furious bass barrage and percussionist Don Alias lapsing into a congo solo that led into an African-like chant. On her second encore, she was joined by the Persuasions for a do-wop sing-a-long on the rock 'n' roll classic, "Why Do Fools Fall in Love." Her show was not packaged so much as crafted.

At the end, she sang a haunting, sol version of "Woodstock," that was in stark contrast to the rest of her performance. As she walked off stage, quietly strumming her guitar, she left behind shivers of feeling that played at the spines of her listeners.

Printed from the official Joni Mitchell website. Permanent link:

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