The Joni Mitchell & James Taylor Story played to a packed out audience at the Komedia. This isn’t just a tribute act, but rather an informative and interesting overview of the early years of these two artists presented by two obvious fans who have done their research very thoroughly and are skilled musicians and singers. I would go again and with so much on at the Fringe that’s an accolade.
Their voices are beautiful
Joni’s first and then James follows after the break. I’ve always felt that Joni hasn’t got the recognition as the great artist that she is and the only criticism I would have of the show is that she should have been the closing act.
Pictures of their lives are shown on a screen with a voiceover and this is interspersed with Charlotte Brereton (Joni) and Dan Clews (James) from Night Owl Shows singing. They do all the big hits so no one goes home disappointed. They also bring in little interesting snippets of gossip (Joni and Leonard Cohen at Newport – who knew?) and don’t shy away from the difficult times in the artists’ lives. I’m a fan of both and there were some great backstories that I didn’t know.
The audience are all people who were fans the first time round (me included) and there’s a wave of warmth from them that meets the authentic performance from the two much younger people on the stage. They make no attempt to look like their heroes (although Charlotte has long dark hair and a flowing dress) but have obviously learnt enough of their styles to make a pretty convincing tribute to them. They show that they have a genuine interest and insight into the lives of both Joni and James. Their voices are beautiful; no one can get the amazing bell like quality that the young Joni got in her high notes and Dan thinks he sounds more like Paul Simon than James Taylor, but these are minor quibbles. Dan’s guitar playing is excellent and the whole show hangs together very well. I would love to hear their ‘real’ voices.
The crowd filed out humming Big Yellow Taxi and Fire and Rain, thinking of a time where we all had bare feet and maxi dresses and the net was something you played tennis across.