Joni Mitchell Performs First Full-Length Live Set in 20 Years, Joined on Stage by Brandi Carlile

by Megan Molseed

Iconic folk artist Joni Mitchell gave fans at the Newport Folk Festival an unforgettable memory as the Big Yellow Taxi singer took the stage on Sunday, July 24 to perform a 13-song set. It was a special moment with the legendary singer as Mitchell hasn’t performed a set like this in over 20 years. In fact, this was Mitchell’s first appearance at the annual music event in over five decades.

Some Big Names Join Folk-Music Icon Joni Mitchell In Stunning Performance

Joining Joni Mitchell as she performs her much-loved hits including Both Sides Now are a series of special guests such as country music superstar Wynnona Judd and You and Me On the Rock singer Brandi Carlile. And the seventy-eight-year-old Mitchell, who has struggled with health issues since a 2015 brain aneurysm, gave the audience memorable performances that were nothing short of stunning.

Among the other stars joining Joni Mitchell on the festival stage are Blake Mills, Lucius, and Taylor Goldsmith. Former Mumford & Sons crooner – and newly solo singer – Marcus Mumford also joined the folk-music legend on stage this weekend.

Mitchell Performs Some Beloved Classics During Her Weekend Performance

As Mitchell’s Sunday set kicked off, the singer gave the audience a glimpse of her playful side as she performs some covers of some legendary pop-music hits such as the Persuasions hit Why Do Fools Fall in Love and the Clovers’ Love Potion No. 9. But Mitchell wasn’t there just to touch on some covers. Many of the songs the singer performed are renditions of her own classic hits.

“No one brings folk singers together like the humility of trying out a new song in front of Joni f–king Mitchell,” Brandi Carlile quips during the performance. Carlile has long been a Joni Mitchell fan…the artist has even covered pieces of Mitchell’s hit 1971 Blue album.

It was an emotional moment when Carlile joined Mitchell in a rendition of the folk singer’s 1969 ballad Both Sides Now. As Mitchell flawlessly delivers the soul-stirring performance – with Carlile joining in softly during the chorus – Wynonna Judd can be seen in the background quietly wiping away her tears. Judd recently suffered a devastating loss as her mother, Naomi Judd, lost her battle with depression earlier this year.

This was an unforgettable performance, especially since this is a rare appearance by Joni Mitchell. The singer has been fairly reclusive over the last few years. However, Mitchell made another appearance just this spring when she was honored at the annual MusiCares Person of the Year gala in April. The night of celebrations included performances from a variety of performers including Carlile, Jon Batiste, John Legend, and Sara Bareilles.