So what can I say? Only that you people out there in recession land (at least most of you) missed the finest performance ever seen at Kleinhans Music Hall last Monday night? Her majesty, the princess of music culture (Judy C. has to be the Queen), Joni Mitchell was at her best.
People swarmed and buzzed before the concert like bees flying around honey. Tom Scott and the L.A. Express came on to warm things up on that snowy, cold night. At first they sounded to me like studio musicians trying to make it. Their first couple of songs (all were instrumentals) sounded like the backround [sic] music for a detective or lawyer show on TV - you know like "serious" progressive pop.
The band was tight and very aggressive - perhaps a bit too aggressive. They were really into (and I do mean really) trying to please. The Coltrane number was done well, however, as Mr. Calloway hit some beautiful, mellow notes on the electric piano. Max Bennett on bass also did a terrific job that night. He was with Frank Zappa for a while and performed on Hot Rocks.
Joni turns them on
At the time I didn't know whether Tom Scott and the L.A. Express were going to be Joni Mitchell's back-up band. I was kind of hoping that she would come out by herself.
Scott finally introduced Joni Mitchell to the audience. She entered the Music Hall wearing a full length, sleeveless, bareback, orange gown and an appreciative smile. She started things off with "You Turn Me On, I'm a Radio" from For The Roses and "This Flight Tonight" from Blue. "You Turn Me On" was very rythmic [sic] and got the audience going. Her energetic acoustic guitar playing was complemented nicely by her long blond hair and shapely figure swaying back and forth with the melody. Calloway's electric piano melted into Joni's fine acoustic sound quite well. The first set was electric and mainly consisted of songs from her new album, Court and Spark. "Free Man in Paris" came off nicely with Tom Scott helping out on the vocals.
Vocal versitility [sic]
There was a long intermission, but the second set was worth waiting for. Wearing a new gown, Joni came back on alone. She loosened up a great deal and talked and joked with the audience.
The intro to "Taxi" was greeted by a thunderous round of applause. Her rich, full, high-pitched voice filled every corner of the hall. She displayed tremendous control over her voice throughout the concert as her vocal chords changed octaves and she accepted them warmly.
"All I Want" and "Blue" were done with tremendous feeling. David Crosby said once that Joni Mitchell is the best songwriter he has ever known. "A Case Of You" demonstrated her writing talents as it also proved her ability to reach high notes without the slightest sign of strain or crack in her voice. Scott accompanied her a number of times on flute, recorder, clarinet and sax.
Joni told an interesting story about her "get back to nature" days. She described the cabin in which she was living before her house in the woods was completed. Joni said that she always kept three chairs in her cabin: one for herself, one for company - and one for society.
Her grand finale was "Raised On Robbery," and what an amazing number it was. The combination of her rythmic [sic] guitar-playing, her sweet, rich voice and her vibrant energy were both musically captivating and totally mesmerizing. Like the completely engrossed audience, I was in awe throughout the entire concert. She came back for an encore after the deafening standing applause. It was a well-deserved ovation for a superlative and talented live performer. Thank you, Joni.
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