Joni Mitchell, Tom Scott, and the L.A. Express

by Mark Kmetzko
Scene (Entertainment Weekly)
February 21, 1974

Music Hall
February 13

Despite her egotistical attitude, Joni Mitchell managed to put on a pretty damned good show last week at Music Hall. When one is a "legend," (as is Mitchell) it's often hard to live up to a critic's expectations, but the lady's performance was all I had hoped for.

Although she touched on some earlier material ("The Cactus Tree," "For Free" and others), most of Mitchell's 90-plus minute concert was built around her "new period" stuff, that is, her last three albums. Most of the time she was wise to intersperse the new songs with older ones, lest the former's dryness (let's face it, they aren't great melodically) get boring.

The concert was well arranged. Mitchell's band, Tom Scott & The L.A. express, opened the show with half an hour of their own fine jazz/rock. Then Mitchell emerged from the wings to join them for a half hour of her light rock tunes. After intermission, Mitchell returned and did 50 minutes of solo things (accompanying herself on piano, dulcimer and guitars) and the finale again featured her and the band together.

It was only during that long solo period that Mitchell's music wore thin. A near-hour of her introspective, and somewhat monotonous, songs was a bit much for me.

Saxophonist Tom Scott and company should be greatly commended. Although they were not much when it came to soloing (except at times for guitarist Robin Ford), they were super-funky as an ensemble and a joy to experience. Their work behind Mitchell was excellent; in fact I wonder if she would have been anywhere near as good had they not been there.

A comment about the earlier reference to Mitchell's attitude. I resented the horrible snobbishness she exhibited during the first half of the show ("thank you's" were non-existent) but I guess I can forgive her in light of her fine overall performance.


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