Joni 75: A Birthday Celebration review – heartfelt tribute to revered singer

From Chaka Khan to James Taylor, an all-star lineup perform some of Joni Mitchell’s finest songs to mark her 75th birthday

This event cinema presentation offers a chance to see one of the two tribute concerts held last November in Los Angeles to honour Joni Mitchell. The revered singer-songwriter, now 75, fully deserves to be feted by an eclectic lineup of artists channelling her music. Fans should be warned, however, that although she can be seen here in occasional cutaways enjoying the show – and younger versions of her pop up in archive clips, photos and painted self-portraits – because of ill health she no longer performs.

So viewers have to make do with arresting, occasionally straight-up but mostly fascinating reinterpretations of Mitchell’s songs, performed by guest singers and an all-star house band. Arguably, the best performances here take the song in a new direction and transmute it with sheer force of personality – as is the case with old friend Chaka Khan’s soaring Help Me, or her magnificent teaming with La Marisoul for a swingy, latinate Dreamland. Rufus Wainwright’s Blue is more like superior karaoke, too close to the original arrangement to really surprise, and James Taylor’s River doesn’t quite land for the opposite reason, with a transposition that alters it out of recognition.

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Source: theguardian
Joni 75: A Birthday Celebration review – heartfelt tribute to revered singer