A singers' singer would be an apt description of the young Canadian songwriter-singer Joni Mitchell who presented a flawless concert last Saturday evening at the Berkeley Community Theater.
Miss Mitchell, in her first appearance in the Bay Area in quite a while, is an artist who has perfected her craft. Her craft is music and she knows it well.
For more than two hours, Miss Mitchell completely enthralled her audience (and that's rare for a Berkeley audience) with her lyrical, flowing and melodious tunes, old and new.
Even though the concert was near perfect, the piece de resistance occurred during one of her three encores. Joni was joined onstage by her friends -- David Crosby, Graham Nash, David Blue and Neil Young and Jackson Browne who opened the show.
In a joyous songfest, the audience joined in with the performers in a couple of minutes of "Circle Game." It was indeed an unexpected and refreshing change of pace.
In her own way, Miss Mitchell is an entertainer. Her femininity pervades the stage and her very competent delivery is just enough that she doesn't come across harsh. She was giddy, giggly, bubbly and talked just enough to make the packed audience comfortable.
Dressed in a very attractive strawberry colored tie-dye pantsuit, Joni performed the easy going "Cactus Tree," the folksy "Blue," the moving allegory "For Free," the rousing "Carey," the quiet soft "Mild Man" [sic] and the rockin' "This Flight." [sic]
Joni is a seductress on stage. She caresses and lovingly delivers the lyrics of her songs in a unique and awe inspiring way on such tunes as "All I Really Want," [sic] "The Banquet," and the brooding "Woodstock."
Her musical stage presence was still there on some of her older hits such as the rollicking "Big Yellow Taxi," the moody "Both Sides Now," and "That Song About the Midway."
New Joni Mitchell tunes were introduced during the evening, during which she played the piano, dulcimer, and acoustic guitar. Her rich, lilting, and full voice was a pleasure to hear on "For the Roses," and "Oh Honey You Turn Me On I'm A Radio," [sic] which she said would be her next single release.
The one fault that Joni Mitchell has, is repetition. Many of her songs tend to sound the same and run together so that the listener cannot tell them apart.
Joni Mitchell is more mellow than Joan Baez, and not as intense as Judy Collins, but she is in a talented little niche all her own.
Jackson Browne is a composer-singer from Los Angeles who opened the show. He was quite impressive and with a little more polish, he could become a very entertaining singer. He performed well on "Together In Sin at the Holiday Inn," and "Take it Easy."