Joni Mitchell, Blossom Music Center, August 16, 1979
Joni Mitchell is more than just a dream - she's versatile and that makes her more real than all singer/songwriters. I mean, maybe if Laura Nyro didn't turn her back on it all, and maybe if Ricki Lee Jones will be more than a fluke, and if Carly Simon wasn't so elite, I'd be saying the same thing about them.
In Cleveland's Blossom Music Center, Mitchell exuded an egotism which never bordered on borrowed hype from her male influences. I thought that onstage, she was basically asexual, or only wanted to have sex with her audience. This wasn't so much a power trip as it was a shared daydream.
She smiled at the dozens of roses thrown at her after "Big Yellow Taxi" which was played on an electric guitar. She was the marvel, the genius and her band just a backdrop - however good they were. Pat Metheny picked his guitar like he wanted to make the deaf hear and Weather Report bassist Jaco Pastorius pulled a Hendrix parody/tribute which included throwing his bass to the stage and jumping off an amp. Mitchell needed no football rock theatrics, which are interesting as cross-cultural digs only. Mitchell's stunning three-octave voice gave us a movie with "Coyote," a trip to the past with "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" sung with the Persuasions, and jazz with her Mingus stuff. Mitchell displayed the legacy of the century's popular music in the space of an hour and a half. A jazzy version of "Woodstock" topped it off. We were speechless, without sex but with sensual thoughts, sugar plums tap dancing in our heads.
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