Folk icon Joni Mitchell wowed crowds at the Newport Folk Festival on Sunday (July 24) as the “Big Yellow Taxi” singer took the stage for her first full-length live set in more than 20 years. In her first appearance at the annual gathering since 1969, the reclusive Mitchell held court in a gilded chair for a 13-song set that included a parade of honored guests paying tribute to the 78-year-old singer, who was struggling with health issues has and has rarely appeared in public since suffering a brain aneurysm in 2015.
Rolling Stone reported that Mitchell was joined by a group that included new solo singer Marcus Mumford, Brandi Carlile, Blake Mills, Lucius, Taylor Goldsmith, Wynonna and more as they participated in some of their most popular songs. The set started off with Mitchell singing along to songs like “Carey”. Bluewith Carlile, and “Come In From the Cold” with Dawes’ Goldsmith, and included some popular pop covers, including “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” by the Persuasions and “Love Potion No. 9” by the Clovers.
“Nothing brings folk singers together like the humility of trying out a new song before Joni f-King Mitchell,” Carlile said in the introduction to the Newport set she curated and organized RS; Longtime fan and friend Carlile reported on Mitchell’s milestone in 1971 Blue Album complete at Carnegie Hall in November 2021. The pair collaborated on Mitchell’s iconic 1969 song “Both Sides Now,” performing a subdued version of the ballad while the stage-packed musicians watched in awe at the masterclass, with a video of the performance, where country singer Wynonna dabbed away tears during the emotional performance hosted by Carlile’s bandmates Phil and Tim Hanseroth.
At Mitchell’s first public concert since 2000, she looked and sounded majestic as she sat on her majestic throne, wearing dark sunglasses, a beret and a bright satin suit.
Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius and singer Celisse Henderson performed for a lively “Big Yellow Taxi” during the enthusiastically received set, which also included the group singing along to “Carey” from the beloved 1971 breakup album Blueas well as “Amelia”, “Help Me”, “Shine” and George Gershwin Porgy & Bess Summer time classic. The highlight for many, however, came when Mitchell pulled out an electric guitar and played a solo over “Just Like This Train” from her best-selling 1974 album yard and spark before ending the set with a throwback to a tune she performed in Newport more than half a century ago, “The Circle Game.”
Mitchell was honored at the annual MusiCares Person of the Year Gala in April, where Carlile and Jon Batiste helped host a night of celebration of their music, which featured John Legend, Herbie Hancock, Sara Bareilles, Leon Bridges, Yola and others contributed.
This weekend’s festival also featured another surprise set from one of Mitchell’s contemporaries and another mostly retired folk superstar, Paul Simon, who performed a rare, unannounced at the end of a tribute set to his music conducted by Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats had a public appearance. 80-year-old Simon, who retired from touring in 2018, performed a four-song set Saturday night including “Graceland,” “The Boxer,” “American Tune” (featuring Rhiannon Giddens on vocals) and a solo finale by “The Sound”. the silent one.”
Watch a video from the set below.