Joni Mitchell, the songwriter-singer from Saskatoon, Canada, does not need much help to put on a good performance. Her songs and stage presence could carry her.
But she got help for her sell-out performance at Kiel Opera House last night in the form of Tom Scott and the L.A. Express. Scott, who has been working as a movie studio musician since he was 15 years old, plays a number of wind instruments including a melodica, which looks like a mouth piano. The other members of the L.A. Express are Robin Ford on guitar, John Guerin on drums, Max Bennett on bass and Roger Kellaway on Fender Rhodes.
Every member of the group is a studio musician of long standing, but Kellaway is a recording artist in his own right. Among his many credits is the movie score for "The Paper Lion."
The L.A. Express was on stage about 50 minutes before Miss Mitchell appeared. They played a number of jazz tunes led by Scott on saxophone. The sound was off somewhat, but it was not too noticeable until Miss Mitchell joined them. The drums partly covered her voice on her first two songs and the bass was thumping in too loudly. However, that was corrected later.
After the intermission she appeared onstage solo, for a time accompanying herself on piano, acoustic guitar and dulcimer. Anyone who can sing those lypric [sic] poems that she has set to music when playing the dulcimer is something of a wizard. Yet she did it and it was not disappointing.
When the band rejoined her, she sang "Both Sides Now" and a couple of selections from her new album, "Court and Spark," which was released Thursday. It was from that album that she selected "Help Me" and a bouncing tune called "Raised on Robbery," which is the current single.
The package was well put together and completely entertaining.
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