By Regan Baker
Back down the M1 I travel again to the beautiful Home of the Arts on the Gold Coast. On the lower levels of HOTA (which I didn’t even know existed until now), sits the gorgeous Lakeside Room where tonight’s performance was taking place. Advantageous is the Lakeside Room in that the drinks are served in glass and not plastic like the main theatre upstairs! So I stocked up on a lovely Sav Blanc and shuffled into the cabaret-style setting of the theatre. Sold at 110% capacity, I quickly offered up my lonesome table and joined another, alongside a Canadian and a Brit who upon finding out that I had no idea who Joni Mitchell was, were very quick to gush about her amazing career.
The lights dimmed, and the stage was set. A self portrait, which Joni painted for the cover art of her album, Love Has Many Faces, sat illuminating at the back of the stage. Electric candles scattered the stage and created a gorgeous ambience as Queenie van de Zandt and her band took to the stage.
Queenie not only has a beautiful voice, but an incredibly powerful one as well. A lot of shows I’ve been to lately have been afraid to crank the volume, but not HOTA, and not Queenie! The audio levels were set to near max and Queenie belted out Joni’s greatest hits, which absolutely filled the Lakeside Room. You could feel the music in your bones and the audience resonated with the powerful performance. After listening to a Spotify playlist of Joni’s music on the hour-long drive back home, it is uncanny how well Queenie is able to match Joni’s voice. The core of Joni’s voice was present throughout every song, and Queenie added her own inflections and tonality to make the performance her own.
Queenie’s musical interpretations of Joni’s songs were intercut with voiceovers and interviews from people who knew and loved Joni and were involved with different stages of her career. From spending a year of her life battling Polio as a child, to dropping out of art school after falling pregnant, to her many love interests, Queenie’s performance covers it all. The use of the voiceovers was an incredibly powerful vice that showed insight and inspiration to how Joni created her music. Taking on the persona of Joni, Queenie also spoke in first person about her life and losses and the creative path that she walked throughout her life.
Backed by her managing director, Max Lambert on the keys, a multi-talented guitarist and a double-bassist, Blue: The Songs of Joni Mitchell was an absolute delight to watch. Every moment of the show was crafted with care and the passion that Queenie and Max have for Joni’s music flowed through the performance. I may have entered the show not knowing anything about Joni, but I left feeling like I had followed her entire career.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.