The Songs of Joni Mitchell

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The Songs of Joni Mitchell

Posted: 17 Nov 2013

Ian Shaw and Claire Martin

The Sage Gateshead

9 November

 

While Bryan Ferry impressed in Hall One (see review), at the same time Hall Two brought together pianist Ian Shaw and jazz singer Claire Martin for an evening celebrating the songs of Joni Mitchell in the week the Canadian singer-songwriter turned 70.

Starting with the title track of my favourite Joni album, Blue, Shaw and Martin skilfully segued into Blue Motel Room from Hejira. Throughout an enjoyable evening the duo performed songs from many of Mitchell’s albums but unlike Brit Floyd, who three nights later performed note-for-note replicas of Pink Floyd’s career highlights, Shaw and Martin put their own stamp on the songs of Joni Mitchell.

Mitchell herself travelled through folk into jazz on her own musical journey and not surprisingly given Shaw and Martin’s biographies it was the jazz elements of Mitchell’s songbook that were to the fore here, whether or not the songs came from Mitchell’s jazz-influenced albums.

Ian Shaw is an accomplished pianist – though at times he was overly keen to demonstrate his talent – while Claire Martin – awarded the OBE for services to music in 2011 – is a renowned jazz singer and also a presenter of Jazz Line Up on Radio Three.

I overheard a lady at the interval saying she hardly knew Joni Mitchell’s songs but was enjoying the evening. From my point of view as a massive Mitchell fan I came away a little let down that the songs were there to serve the singers rather than the other way round, although Claire Martin’s rendition of Amelia was sublime.

 

Rob Mason

             

 

           

 

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