Joni Mitchell performed to a sold-out War Memorial Auditorium last, and seemed to meet the expectations of all her fans.
The onetime "folk singer" showed she has left that sometimes confining style behind -- but can return to it at will.
Backed by the five-member L.A Express, Miss Mitchell sang several songs from her latest album, "The Hissing of Summer Lawns."
But the more than 8,000 persons in the hockey rink seemed to be waiting for her "old songs," the quiet personal ballads with just an acoustic guitar behind her pure soprano voice.
And their favorites came. "Yellow Taxi," "Cold Blue Steel" and "He Played Real Good for Free."
But she declined to merely parrot her older material. In addition to the "Summer Lawn" songs, on an album which only recently hit the record racks, she also introduced new material, "Coyote" and "Don Juan's Reckless Daughter."
L.A. Express had the somewhat unusual task of playing as the first act -- traditionally a thankless task when an audience is waiting for a "star" -- and as backup to Miss Mitchell's piano and guitar.
They assumed their tasks nicely.
The group leans more to jazz rhythm than to the common denominator of rock, and the songs they played lacked lyrics to pull the melody along. But after a slow start they finished an hour set well.
As backup to Miss Mitchell, they came and went on stage almost unnoticed, playing hard on "Help Me" and other numbers, but softly and in the background when needed for emphasis.
Miss Mitchell's set lasted about 90 minutes.
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