History was made at this year’s Newport Folk Festival, where a famously reclusive Joni Mitchell performed her first full concert set in more than two decades on Sunday (July 24). The 78-year-old icon’s friend and collaborator Brandi Carlile hosted the show in partnership with the festival and even joined Mitchell onstage. Now, both musicians have taken to social media following the performance to thank each other.
Featuring four photos from the surprise set, one of which captured the “Big Yellow Taxi” singer holding hands with Carlile onstage, a message posted to Mitchell’s official Twitter account expressed her gratitude for the 13-song show — which also featured appearances from Marcus Mumford, Blake Mills, Lucius, Taylor Goldsmith, Wynonna and more. “What a wonderful night!” the tweet read. “Thank you @BrandiCarlile and @NewportFolkFest for hosting Joni’s return to the stage after all these years.”
Mitchell hasn’t performed a full live set since 2000 and hasn’t often appeared in public since suffering a brain aneurysm in 2015. With the Blue artist seated in a golden chair throughout the Newport performance, the stage was set up like the singer’s own living room — where she has been holding a series of “Joni Jams” with musicians like Carlile in the years she’s been in recovery.
In fact, it was Carlile who thought of the idea to stage a live “Joni Jams” at Newport. “Joni’s looked at life from so many sides and she came out of the storm singing like a prophet,” the 41-year-old singer wrote on Twitter after the festival. “After all she’s been through she returned to the Newport Folk Fest stage after 53 years and I will never forget sitting next to her while she stopped this old world for a while. I will never be over this.”
Someone who’s also still reeling from Sunday’s Mitchell magic is Questlove, who opened up for the songwriting legend at Newport. “Opened up for #JoniMitchell this afternoon at a place where #Dylan electrified a generation 50+ years ago,” he tweeted. “I am so grateful for this experience I have on earth. I never take this journey for granted.”
David Crosby, an associate of Mitchell’s from the halcyon Laurel Canyon days, tweeted his appreciation for Carlile after the Newport set. “Brandi I hope you read this ….you are a brave and wonderful soul …this was a truly great thing to have done ….not easy …but you have a good heart ….and she could tell …and so was opened and brought forth …made brave herself ….anything I can ever do for you …I’ll do.” Carlile replied, “Oh thank you David!! That means a lot to me. Joni just honestly blew us all away. She has such will! she took it upon herself to relearn guitar and just devastate everyone with that vocal. Like you I’m simply in awe.”
See Joni Mitchell, Brandi Carlile, Questlove and Crosby’s tweets about Joni’s live performance comeback below.
📷 Nina Westervelt pic.twitter.com/KHbP9td2JR
— Joni Mitchell (@jonimitchell) July 25, 2022
— Brandi Carlile (@brandicarlile) July 25, 2022
"….opened up for #JoniMitchell this afternoon at a place where #Dylan electrified a generation 50+ years ago….I am so grateful for this experience I have on earth. I never take this journey for granted. thank you for this @Newportfolkfest
— Dr. Love (@questlove) July 25, 2022
Oh thank you David!! That means a lot to me ❤️ Joni just honestly blew us all away. She has such will! she took it upon herself to relearn guitar and just devastate everyone with that vocal. Like you I’m simply in awe.
— Brandi Carlile (@brandicarlile) July 26, 2022