For Joni Mitchell fans, there are few visual documents of the earlier part of her career more coveted than the famed BBC In Concert special from 1970. The full title was Joni Mitchell Sings Joni Mitchell and it’s an intimate and closely miked performance shot in front of a respectful and quiet audience. The show was recorded at the BBC Television Centre in Shepherd’s Bush on September 3rd. but not broadcast until October 9th. Mitchell, although seemingly nervous at times, is at the height here, of her powers as a musician, and of her considerable beauty.
The whole thing, in my opinion, is really just off the scale. She doesn’t sing a dishonest note here.
It’s also one of the very first things I ever downloaded on Bit Torrent and the quality was so perfect that, being used to crappy bootlegs, I was really pleasantly surprised. Here was something that was of a higher quality than I could have purchased at Tower Records or the Virgin Megastore. If there was more stuff like this out there, I thought to myself, “I’m going to dive right into this whole Bit Torrent thing…” Within a year or two YouTube launched and there was, of course, an avalanche of amazing rock era rarities that were instantly rare no more.
Over at the Sixties Archive blog, they’ve recreated the entire set list with the best quality versions of the video and audio they could assemble, plus numbers that were cut from the broadcast.
In the video below, Mitchell sings “Chelsea Morning,” “Cactus Tree,” “My Old Man” (about the very lucky Graham Nash), “For Free,” “California,” “Big Yellow Taxi” and “Both Sides Now.”