Edinburgh Festival Fringe: There are many musical tributes on the Fringe, but it takes a brave vocalist to tackle the music of Joni Mitchell, one of the most singular songwriters of the pop age, commanding enormous respect among her peers and outright adulation from her fans.
The Joni Mitchell Story
theSpace @ Symposium Hall (Venue 43)
A Case of You: The Music of Joni Mitchell
Paradise in Augustines (Venue 152)
Charlotte Brereton, who sings in The Joni Mitchell Story, has a pleasing tone but is hampered by nerves and, though she eventually settles into the performance, never really inhabits the material.
Much of the show is taken up by a well-researched but badly written and stiffly narrated film biography which identifies Mitchell’s main drivers and influences – childhood polio, singing in a church choir, the rise of coffeehouse culture – but abruptly ends with Mitchell on the cusp of success and recognition, leaving Brereton little time to sing anything beyond the more obvious Mitchell numbers such as Big Yellow Taxi, Both Sides Now and The River.
Inevitably, there is overlap with A Case Of You: The Music of Joni Mitchell, as performed by Adelaide singer Deborah Brennan, who is entirely sincere in her appreciation but does not have the vocal chops to interpret Mitchell’s notoriously complex melodies and unexpected intervals. Worse, her affected tone obscures the storytelling emotion of the songs, most obviously on the beautiful love song from which the show title comes.
However, she does have the more sophisticated backing of Liam Garcia-Hardman on meticulous guitar picking, Chris Neale on subtle percussion and both on elegant backing vocals.
The Joni Mitchell Story until 26 August. Today 12:50pm. A Case of You: The Music of Joni Mitchell until 26 August. Today 1:20pm.