Joni Mitchell marked her first ticketed performance in 23 years with “Joni Jam” at The Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington on June 10.
Throughout her performance, Mitchell invited numerous special guests including Brandi Carlile (who also served as the night’s opener), Lisa Coleman, Taylor Goldsmith, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth, Mark Isham, Annie Lennox, Lucious, Ben Lusher, Sarah McLachlan, Wendy Melvoin, Blake Mills, Marcus Mumford, Josh Neumann, Allison Russell and Rick Whitfield.
Mitchell performed for nearly three hours, playing classics including “Both Sides Now,” “Big Yellow Taxi,” “California,” “Blue,” and “A Case Of You.” She also shared interpretations of “Love Potion No. 9,” “Summertime” and “Young At Heart.”
The Joni Jam was part of Carlile’s annual “Echoes Through the Canyon” event at the Gorge Amphitheatre with Carlile headlining June 9 (joined by special guests Marcus Mumford and Allison Russell), the Joni Jam June 10 and The Highwomen supergroup (featuring Carlile, Amanda Shires, Maren Morris and Natalie Hemby) with special guest Tanya Tucker June 11.
The “Joni Jam” at the Gorge followed Mitchell’s surprise performance at 2022’s Newport Folk Festival at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, Rhode Island, during a set billed as “Brandi Carlile and Friends.” Mitchell had retired decades earlier and then had to relearn how to speak and walk after suffering a debilitating brain aneurysm in 2015. Carlile previously explained in an interview with CBS Mornings that the Newport performance was inspired by the “Joni Jams” that Mitchell has hosted the past few years at her California home.
In a review of the Gorge show, the New York Times‘ Lindsay Zoladz wrote that after the first few songs, “a recognition seemed to ripple through the crowd: Mitchell’s voice had grown even stronger, richer and nimbler in the year since those Newport videos went viral. In that previous performance, Carlile had often guided Mitchell or taken on lead vocal duties herself. But at the Gorge, Mitchell was once again in control. There was a renewed ease in her movement across melodies, and a pearly purity in her tone. It was breathtaking. To hear Mitchell hit certain notes again in that inimitable voice was like glimpsing, in the wild, a magnificent bird long feared to have gone extinct.”
Rhino announced that Joni Mitchell’s surprise performance at last year’s Newport Folk Festival will be sold as a live album, At Newport, with CD and 2-LP black vinyl available on July 28. The live album can also now be streamed digitally.