The Songs of Joni Mitchell
Posted: 17 Nov 2013
Ian Shaw and Claire Martin
The Sage Gateshead
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
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.