It's difficult to recall a Portland musical event within the past year or so that generated as much anticipation as Joni Mitchell's Monday evening performance at Civic Auditorium.
And it's even harder to remember a more warmly satisfying evening of music than that which Joni provided during her lengthy two-hour set before an adoring, sold-out audience of 3,000.
All the expectations of those who had patiently awaited her first ever appearance here were fulfilled by a rich superlative performance.
The evening opened with an excellent 30 minute jazz set by Tom Scott and the L.A. Express, Joni's backup band for this tour.
Joni finally joined the group strapping on an acoustic guitar for her first tune, "This Flight Tonight," from the Blue album.
The first half of the show continued with material from her last four albums, augmented by additional instrumentation from the L.A. Express.
The band worked well with Joni. It provided the perfect complement to her rhythmic style and yet did not get in the way of the lyrics.
Joni did not address the audience during the first part of the show, except to announce a short intermission.
After the break and a costume change, she returned alone to perform her more personal love songs, including tunes from Blue.
She frequently leaned over the edge of the stage between songs to accept small gifts from admirers and went into a rather lengthy but delightful engaging rap about a trip to Montreal to aid an Indian tribe.
A smile rarely left her face as she performed the bulk of material from her new Court and Spark LP before being joined by the L.A. Express for a rousing "Raised on Robbery."
Calls for an encore were satisfied with an older jazz-bop tune, Annie Ross' "Twisted."
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