The cancellation of Sunday night’s Joni Mitchell concert, because of rain, proved to be only the beginning of disappointments for Mitchell fans.
An attack of bronchitis forced her to cancel her Monday night show, although she had felt obligated to perform at a make-up show Monday afternoon for the thousands of people who had spent most of Sunday in the cold at Red Rocks, awaiting her appearance.
As if that wasn’t enough of an ordeal, the Monday afternoon show at the Auditorium Arena, began two hours late. The crowd, which had good cause for restlessness, if not something more serious, was mellow and cheerful to an astounding degree.
Tom Scott and the L. A. Express, Joni’s back-up band for this tour, came on stage and took up where they left off when rain halted the Sunday night show, about four songs into the set.
Tom Scott—on sax—and Larry Nash—on electric piano—trade leads on jazz compositions by band members. Neither Scott nor Nash played that hot, and the guitar and drums were constantly too busy, so it came out sounding like background music.
The band actually was more impressive backing Joni, when they tended to play lighter and thinner.
Joni finally came on, opened with “Free Man in Paris,” and did a half-hour set with the band behind her. It was the same format as the show she gave in this area last spring, covering her most recent LP “Court and Spark” rather thoroughly and selected popular songs from her three previous albums. She avoided her earliest writing, only using one song, “Both Sides, Now” from the second album. There was nothing from the first.
After an intermission, she returned alone and seemed more relaxed and talkative. She suggested that these days are the age of the seeker, if apathy hasn’t gotten you yet. The dulcimer accompaniment on “All I Want” and “A Case of You” was a treat.
Her bronchitis gave her voice a nasal quality and exhaustion probably was responsible for the occasional inaccuracies of pitch, but the tremendous energy she puts into each song easily overcame these problems.
Her rendition of “Cold Blue Steel” followed by the anguished “Blue” were electrifying.
Only two new songs were introduced: The first was reminiscent of the love songs on “Blue,” and the second was more of a rocker with an intense, complex expression.
Joni was called back for an encore after an hour-long second set. Her high energy and electric presence made the audience oblivious to the frustrations they had endured to see her.
Ticket holders for the second show can obtain refunds where the tickets were purchased.
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