Joni Mitchell gives first full live performance since 2002

The musician’s set at the Newport Folk festival was her first since she had a brain aneurysm in 2015

Joni Mitchell gave her first full live performance since 2002 at this weekend’s Newport Folk festival. Mitchell, 78, joined country musician and friend Brandi Carlile at the festival to perform Mitchell classics including A Case of You, Both Sides Now and Big Yellow Taxi. During the 13-song set, Mitchell also performed the guitar solo from Just Like This Train.

Joining her and Carlile – who has covered Mitchell’s 1971 album Blue in full – were Marcus Mumford, Wynonna Judd, Blake Mills, Celisse Henderson and Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of the band Lucius, and Carlile’s bandmates Phil and Tim Hanseroth: a live version of the private “Joni Jam” nights that Mitchell has held at her Los Angeles home in recent years with the likes of Elton John, Bonnie Raitt and Herbie Hancock.

“I just realised, Joni’s the least nervous person up here,” Carlile told the crowd.

As well as renditions of Mitchell songs including Carey, Amelia and Circle Game, the group also covered Gershwin’s Summertime, Frankie Lymon’s Why Do Fools Fall in Love and Leiber and Stoller’s Love Potion No 9. Watch videos of the performance at Pitchfork and read the setlist below.

Mitchell’s last full live show was at the Wiltern in Los Angeles on 13 November 2002. She last appeared at the Newport folk festival in 1969 on the same bill as Arlo Guthrie and the Everly Brothers.

no words pic.twitter.com/IIkpIJmk6O

— Jonathan Bernstein (@jonbern) July 25, 2022

Since having a brain aneurysm in 2015, Mitchell has made a steady return to public life. She was present at a tribute concert in celebration of her 75th birthday in 2018 and appeared on stage as other musicians performed Big Yellow Taxi to blow out the candles on her birthday cake.

To mark the 50th anniversary of Blue in June 2021, Mitchell shared a video thanking fans for “getting” an album that originally “fell heir to a lot of criticism” – namely that her candid lyrics were undignified oversharing. She appeared at the Kennedy Center Honors gala in December 2021 – telling reporters, “I’m hobbling along but I’m doing all right” – where she was among the recipients. In April, Mitchell was named MusiCares person of the year and gave a brief performance at the ceremony to honour her.

Mitchell is also working on a series of archival releases to share demos, previously unheard material and covers. The first, Joni Mitchell Archives Vol 1: The Early Years (1963–1967), was released in October 2020 and featured a rare new interview by Cameron Crowe in the liner notes.

In January, she removed her catalogue from Spotify in solidarity with Neil Young, who directed his management and label to remove his music from the streaming platform given its support of Joe Rogan, whose podcast has been criticised by doctors for spreading misinformation about Covid-19 and vaccination.

“Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives,” Mitchell said. “I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue.”

The full setlist of Joni Mitchell’s Newport folk festival performance

Carey
Come in from the Cold
Help Me
Case of You
Big Yellow Taxi
Just Like This Train
Why Do Fools Fall in Love
Amelia
Love Potion No 9
Shine
Summertime
Both Sides Now
The Circle Game

• This article was amended on 27 July 2022. Phil and Tim Hanseroth are Brandi Carlile’s bandmates, and Celisse Henderson is a solo artist; they are not, as previously stated, Joni Mitchell’s bandmates.

Contributor

Laura Snapes

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Joni Mitchell announces new live album in rare interview with Elton John
The singer will release a recording of her recent appearance at Newport Folk festival, her first full performance in 20 years

Shaad D'Souza

12, Nov, 2022 @7:30 AM

Article image
Pop CD: Joni Mitchell, Travelogue

(eastwest/Nonesuch)

Betty Clarke

22, Nov, 2002 @12:02 PM

CD: Joni Mitchell, Shine

Despite some painfully simplistic moments, Joni Mitchell's sombre anti-war album contains some fine work, says Neil Spencer.

Neil Spencer

16, Sep, 2007 @10:57 PM

Article image
CD: Joni Mitchell, Shine

(Hear Music)

Alexis Petridis

21, Sep, 2007 @10:59 PM

Article image
Joni Mitchell: where to start in her back catalogue
In Listener’s digest, our writers help you explore the work of great musicians. Next up: the poet of Laurel Canyon who refused anyone’s will but her own

20, May, 2020 @2:00 PM

Article image
Joni Mitchell: ‘I’m hobbling along but I’m doing all right’
Singer discusses health difficulties in rare public speech as she accepts Kennedy Center award

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

06, Dec, 2021 @12:32 PM

Article image
Joni Mitchell attends gig as she continues recovery from aneurysm
Singer goes to a Chick Corea concert in LA in her first public appearance since she was hospitalised in 2015

Guardian music

22, Aug, 2016 @8:41 AM

Article image
Joni Mitchell: how rock misogyny made me into a militant fan
It took Joe Muggs until his 30s to get into Mitchell’s grown-up music, but once it clicked, the whole history of music was rewritten in his head

Joe Muggs

17, Feb, 2021 @11:00 AM

Article image
Joni Mitchell, Isle of Wight 1970: the day the music nearly died
A bad vibe and worse acid hung around the 600,000-strong festival, with Mitchell getting heckled – but she used a stretch of perfect songs to create a moment of harmony

Laura Barton

07, Jul, 2020 @10:00 AM

Article image
Old music: Joni Mitchell – Carey

Emine Saner: If you're having doubts about your life, Joni Mitchell's voice might swoop in unbidden, telling you to listen to yourself

Emine Saner

19, Apr, 2012 @8:42 AM