Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 The Joni Mitchell Story theSpace @ Symposium Hall (Venue 43) Review Thursday 17th August

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The Joni Mitchell Story at theSpace@Symposium Hall is, as you would guess from the show title, a very brief look into the life and music of one of the most accomplished singer songwriters of her generation.  With the use of archive documentary film we are given the historical facts while the music is provided by the impressive vocal talents of Charlotte Brereton and on guitar Dan Clews (who is also performing in The James Taylor Story at this venue).

If you are like me and someone who is aware of Joni Mitchell but not someone who is immersed in her work then you will recognise the big songs – “Big Yellow Taxi” and “The Circle Game”, but if you are more aware of the Joni Mitchell back catalogue than I am then I am sure that Charlotte Brereton’s cover of songs like “Case of You”, and “Little Green” will come as welcome additions to the set.

This review is really split into two as, to be honest, on a friend’s recommendation it was the voice of Charlotte Brereton that I came to listen to rather than a brief history of Joni Mitchell.  The format for this show is simple, and the songs are not only chronologically relevant, but also lyrically relevant to the factual information, but I doubt if many true Joni Mitchell fans find many new facts presented here, and for me the length of the time taken to provide that information took up far too much of the show.  For me, anything I wanted to know about Joni Mitchell was going to be in her music and this format cut too deeply into the limited performance time available at a Fringe show – it did though make the songs themselves far more clear as to why Joni Mitchell felt she had to write those words.

Charlotte Brereton, on the other hand, is a vocalist with a voice that can cover a wide range of music and songs, and this rare trip into cover versions (Charlotte usually writes and performs her own music) was a fine showcase for that vocal virtuosity as Joni Mitchell songs are technically very difficult songs to sing properly, and Charlotte does a great job on them here.  I just wish that the format of the show allowed us to hear an extra song or two from Charlotte as this is a performer that I want to find out a lot more about.

A difficult show to review here for me to be honest, as yes, many people will have come to this show to hear the music of Joni Mitchell, but I came to hear the voice of Charlotte Brereton, and there is no easy way to divide the two here, but Charlotte does interest me far more than the show format does.

 

Review by Tom King

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