Brandi Carlile says Joni Mitchell was ‘worried’ ahead of first full live performance since 2002

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Brandi Carlile says Joni Mitchell was ‘worried’ ahead of first full live performance since 2002
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Brandi Carlile has opened up about Joni Mitchell’s “apprehension” ahead of the “Big Yellow Taxi” singer’s first full live performance in 20 years.

The 78-year-old Grammy-winner joined the country musician at the Newport Folk Festival on 24 July, singing a range of her classics including “A Case of You” and “Both Sides Now”.

The set marked Mitchell’s first full show since playing the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles on 13 November 2002, and her first public performance since suffering a brain aneurysm in 2015.

In an essay for The Times on Thursday (28 July), Carlile revealed that Mitchell was “worried” about returning to the stage.

“There was a moment before we left for Newport when she had developed some apprehension,” she wrote. “I think that was because she took it upon herself to play guitar again.

“And I think she found it frustrating to watch her ability on guitar before the aneurysm and then try and reach that ability in a short time. She got a little worried what the expectations were of her around Newport.”

However, the “Heart’s Content” singer said they jumped on a FaceTime call and “had one of the best conversations we’ve ever had”.

Joni Mitchell at the Grammy Awards (AP)
Joni Mitchell at the Grammy Awards (AP)

“I said, ‘Joni, since we all met you, we’ve all started working together, we’ve become a family. You’ve created a community around you. All we want to do is just sit there in a circle and sing to show you what you’ve done for us,” she continued.

“And if you sing along, f***ing awesome; if you don’t, we’re just so happy to be with you. This is our way of thanking you.”

Carlile added: “[Mitchell] said, ‘I get the spirit of it now. We will just sit there and look at the water and sing.’ And after that if she was apprehensive in any way, we didn’t know it.”

The “Our House” singer has made a string of briefer public appearances since recovering from her brain aneurysm, including at the Grammy Awards in April.

There, Mitchell was honoured as the 2022 MusiCares Person of the year by the Recording Academy. She also introduced Carlile for a live performance during the ceremony.

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