‘I was overcome with emotion’: readers on their memories of seeing Joni Mitchell live | Joni Mitchell

“I was cheering and someone was staring at me because of the noise”

It was my first concert in early 1983 at the RDS Main Hall in Dublin. I had recently bought their then new LP Wild Things Run Fast. I remember cheering when one of the new songs played and someone next to me stared at me at the noise. I risked taking my camera and snapping a few photos – the one below is the only one I can find. I can’t remember the concert after almost 40 years. At the time I was living in a small town in the Irish Midlands for work, but I made the effort to drive down in my new (for me) Mini on my first long trip to Dublin. What still annoys me when I remember the concert was the theft of my concert program as I always keep it. Tom Kenny, 62, retired bank clerk, Ashbourne, Ireland

At the RDS in Dublin in early 1983. Photo: Guardian Community

“It was a rowdy audience but she gave a stunning performance”

The first time I saw Joni perform was at the Isle of Wight Festival in August 1970. It was a difficult performance and she was clearly unnerved by a restless audience. It was a rowdy crowd that was probably more suited to the likes of The Who, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix and Jethro Tull. Other acoustic artists such as Leonard Cohen also suffered from audiences reluctant to sit down and listen to the music. It was also a time of agitprop and radical politics – music should be free, man – and it was overwhelmingly male.

Joni Mitchell and Tom Scott perform at the Isle of Wight Festival in August 1970.
Joni Mitchell and Tom Scott perform at the Isle of Wight Festival in August 1970. Photo: Guardian Community

Those were early days for Joni. Her third album and UK breakthrough, Ladies of the Canyon, had only been released a few months before, so she wasn’t well known at all. But once she grasped the scale of the occasion, she delivered a stunning performance with the help of a great band led by Tom Scott. Working at the festival, I had the opportunity to take photos in front of the stage. I was 18, just getting into the music business and running one of the few official grocery stores locally, which gave me the huge benefit of a stage pass.

The next time I saw them was at Wembley Stadium in 1974, with almost the same band, again led by Tom Scott, this time with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and the band. By this time Britain had woken up to West Coast music. Joni had also released three other albums – Blue, For the Roses and Court and Spark – and was a recognized talent. Philip Haines, 70, Exeter

Joni Mitchell's autograph by Iain Forsyth.
Joni Mitchell’s autograph by Iain Forsyth. Photo: Guardian Community

“I don’t think I appreciated how privileged I was”

I’ve only seen Joni once, on the 1983 Wild Things Run Fast Tour at the Edinburgh Playhouse. I was at the forefront and I don’t think I really appreciated how privileged I was at the time. I especially remember how relaxed she seemed and captivated the audience. It wasn’t her greatest time or band, but the set spanned her entire career. There was a short solo acoustic set that was great.

After that I hung out with a few others at the stage door where a limousine was waiting and she signed my program (remember those?). It was a fantastic, unforgettable night. I’ve come and gone with Joni a bit over the years, but along with Bowie, she’s an artist that has stayed with me throughout my adult life. Iain Forsyth, 60, Public Sector Business Analyst, London

“She forever changed the way I see performing artists”

I saw her in Nashville in 1974 with Tom Scott and the LA Express. It was an amazing night after several days of bad, sometimes frightening, weather. She softly commented, “I can’t believe things can be so beautiful and yet so mean.” Later in the evening, as she gracefully glided through her acoustic set, a few viewers called out affectionate pleas. With the faintest of smiles, she said, “No one ever asked Van Gogh to paint The Starry Night again.” We cheered, and in that moment she forever changed the way I see performing artists. Cathey Sawyer, theater director, actress and playwright, West Virginia

“I was overwhelmed with emotions”

Debbie Smith.
Debbie Smith. Photo: Guardian Community

I was 15 years old when I first heard Joni Mitchell. The first track I heard was The Circle Game – no longer one of my favorites now – but I was hooked on it. The first album I heard was “Song to a Seagull” and I still listen to it. In 1983 I had been married for 18 months, living and working in London and managed to get two tickets to see Joni Mitchell at Wembley in April.

I remember crying as we walked the long walk up to the old Wembley Stadium and feeling overwhelmed that I was surrounded by hundreds of other people who felt the same way I did about Joni Mitchell’s music and her words. We were in the main arena, but pretty far back. I managed to get closer to the front and sang along to every song. It was magical. I can always find a Joni Mitchell song to suit my mood and her words are so clever – she’s a poet. My favorite track is probably People’s Parties, although it’s really impossible to pick a track. Their music can still make me cry. Debbie Smith, 63, Eastbourne

“I saw them in Birmingham for £6.50”

Fiona Conway
Fiona Conway’s ticket. Photo: Guardian Community

I saw her in Birmingham in 1983. She had a huge impact on my teenage years and I just loved her incredible music. Myself and two friends borrowed binoculars and they were passed around our entire row so everyone had a close-up view to appreciate. It was one of my best gigs ever. Even now, when a Joni track is on the radio – mainly 6 Music – I can almost sing along word for word and I’m carried away. If I ever need a pick-me-up, Coyote from the movie The Last Waltz will do it—guaranteed. Oh, and the ticket price for the Birmingham gig was £6.50! Fiona Conway, 59, teacher, Corby

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