Nobody saw this comeback coming. Not even Brandi Carlile and the others who would get together for star-studded "Joni Jams" at Joni Mitchell's house in Los Angeles. But on July 24, wearing sunglasses, a blue beret and a goddess's cheekbones, Mitchell took the stage at Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island for a celebration of herself. She was supported by Carlile and musicians including Canada's Allison Russell on Both Sides Now, The Circle Game, the wistful Come in from the Cold and 10 other songs.
"I've never experienced anything like it before," Russell told The Globe and Mail. "Joni's joy was palpable. She was laughing after every song, and she was feeling a wave of love and appreciation of the 10,000 people gathered there and her 10,000 new best friends."
Mitchell hasn't toured since 2000; her brief but radiating performance at Toronto's Luminato Festival in 2013 was rare and unexpected. The Newport set marked Mitchell's first public musical display since she suffered a brain aneurysm in 2015.
"I wanted to be good," Mitchell said after the July event. "I didn't sound too bad tonight."
The year of Joni unofficially commenced in April, when the iconic musician was honoured as the 2022 MusiCares Person of the Year by the Recording Academy, as part of the Grammy Awards. Mitchell accepted the award personally. She also won a Grammy for Best Historical Album, for Joni Mitchell Archives - Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963 - 1967).
Next year, the 79-year-old legend is scheduled to give a concert at the Gorge Amphitheatre, a venue in Washington state.
"I can't believe it's happening, but it's happening," Carlile said on The Daily Show, where she announced the concert. "And she is going to crush it."
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