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Credit: Paul C Babin

Music

Watch Joni Mitchell’s iconic performance on ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’


Joni Mitchell is one of the most venerated musicians in history, and it’s not hard to heed why. Throughout her lengthy career, she’s always stayed true to her clear sense of the self and has managed to successfully walk the line between artistic and commercial success, showing audiences that you can rise to the very top of your game whilst also not selling out. 

Although her career has been an oscillating one, with her increased experimentation with jazz over the late ’70s and ’80s gaining more criticism than acclaim, this never bothered Mitchell, which tells you a lot about her character. She’s in music for herself and no one else, and even if you’re not a fan of her sonic structures, her attitude is to be admired. 

However, the critical factor underpinning Mitchell’s status is undoubtedly her artistic talent, which is cut from only the finest cloth. Her aptitude is incredible, and this is what has allowed her to carry on crafting her own unmistakable sounds, regardless of whatever the contemporary zeitgeist is. Whether it be folk, jazz or pop, she’s continued on her own path, regardless of extraneous elements. Then, there’s no surprise that she’s had a dedicated, almost cult-like following since she first broke onto the scene in the ’60s.

Mitchell has given us many stellar moments over the years. Whether it be the countercultural classic that is her third album, 1970’s Ladies of the Canyon, the ultra-depressing break-up album, 1971’s Blue or the heady delight that is 1974’s Court and Spark, there’s much to explore in her back catalogue, a testament to her skill. 

As well as her numerous albums, Mitchell has also delivered countless stunning performances over the years, and one of the best came in 1974 after she’d released the masterpiece that is Court and Spark. Filmed for the BBC’s now-defunct The Old Grey Whistle Test, the setlist is comprised of hits and fan favourites, and throughout the performance, Mitchell and the band are as tight as can be, dazzling the audience with renditions of classics such as ‘Big Yellow Taxi’, ‘Help Me’ and ‘A Case of You’. 

It’s a brilliant show, and without a doubt, the highlight is Mitchell’s voice, and just how immaculate her delivery is. She showcases all aspects of her wide range across the set, and quickly, you understand just how astounding it would have been to have heard Mitchell live when she was at the top of her game. So sit back, and be prepared to be blown away by Joni Mitchell when she was at her creative zenith. 

Watch the full performance below. 

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