Joni Mitchell Celebrates 1st Scheduled Concert in Decades

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(L – R) Joni Mitchell, Annie Lennox, Brandi Carlile and Sarah McLachlan perform in concert during “Joni Jam” honoring Joni Mitchell at Gorge Amphitheatre on June 10, 2023 in George, Wash. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images; used with permission)

Joni Mitchell performed her first publicly announced concert in 23 years on Saturday (June 10, 2023) when she presented her “Joni Jam” at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Wash. The singer-songwriter was joined by Brandi Carlile, who opened the evening with her own set, and who has been essential in easing the legend back to the stage. Other stars also participated in the celebratory evening of nearly three hours including Annie Lennox and Sarah McLachlan, among them. Mitchell’s expansive catalog was represented in the 24-song set by such classic songs as “Big Yellow Taxi,” “Raised on Robbery,” “Both Sides Now” and “The Circle Game.”

Nearly eleven months earlier, Mitchell was the surprise performer at one of the most acclaimed concerts of 2022. On July 24, at Carlile’s scheduled performance at the Newport Folk Festival billed as “Brandi Carlile & Friends,” Mitchell joined the trailblazing star on stage during her set. Not just for one or two songs. But for thirteen. [It’s being released as a concert album on July 28.] The legend, who has suffered from a variety of serious health issues over the years, had dipped her toe in the water, so to speak, earlier in the year when she gamely sang a bit of “The Circle Game” and “Big Yellow Taxi” at the 2022 MusiCares concert in her honor during Grammy week. That earlier showing must’ve given her the renewed confidence to sing at Newport, which she did while occasionally seated.

Joni Mitchell at Gorge Amphitheatre on June 10, 2023 in George, Wash. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images; used with permission)

The 2023 “Joni Jam” was announced on Oct. 20, 2022, at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Wash., with Carlile as her special guest. The concert represented Mitchell’s first full-length performance since her 2000 tour, when she was 56. (She had played a few songs at a pair of Toronto concerts in 2013, and at a 2002 show in Los Angeles. That was it.) She turned 79 on Nov. 7.

Mitchell is revered by Carlile, a significant musical presence herself, who turned 42 on June 1. The six-time Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, producer and New York Times Best Selling author headlined a concert at the Gorge Amphitheatre one night earlier, on June 9. The pair of concerts were billed as “Echoes Through the Canyon.”

Lennox joined Carlile at the Friday concert to perform “Why”

“Joni Jam” on June 10 began with “Big Yellow Taxi.”

Lennox returned that evening. Before singing “Ladies of the Canyon” with Mitchell, Lennox shared how “you’re such an inspiration to all of us on the stage.”

The evening’s other guests included Lisa Coleman, Taylor Goldsmith, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth, Mark Isham, Lucius (Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig), Ben Lusher, Wendy Melvoin, Blake Mills, Marcus Mumford, Josh Neumann, Allison Russell, and Rick Whitfield.

Watch Mitchell sing “Both Sides Now” at the June 10 concert

Mitchell’s health problems include a brain aneurysm rupture in 2015 which required significant rehabilitation. Her public sightings in the ensuing years were rare. She attended but did not perform at a 75th birthday concert in her honor in Los Angeles in 2018.

At the concert’s conclusion, the Los Angeles Times quotes Mitchell as saying, “Thank you for coming, everybody — it was a beautiful experience.” She closed the concert with “Young at Heart,” which was popularized by Frank Sinatra.

Carlile shared a recap video to her Instagram on June 12.

Mitchell had even more cause for celebration in 2023, with big news from the Library of Congress.

Best Classic Bands Staff

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  1. Jay
    #1 Jay 11 June, 2023, 18:31

    Does anyone know who the man and woman are on stage with Joni, who appear to be her caregivers (perhaps relations?).

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