JONI MITCHELL JAMES TAYLOR and PHIL OCHS – ” Amchitka: The 1970 Concert That Launched Greenpeace “

Posted: March 4, 2021 in MUSIC
Amchitka - The 1970 Concert That Launched Greenpeace

This was a concert that took place on 16th October 1970 at the Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, Canada. A really great inspiring opening speech by Irving Stowe. Opens with Phil Ochs and his folk songs with just voice & acoustic guitar & so it is mainly down to strong words. Phil’s version of ‘Changes’ is not so different to Crispian St Peter’s & is a highlight of the set & really valid for this gig “Scenes of my young years were warm in my mind, Visions of shadows that shine. Till one day I returned and found they were the Victims of the vines of changes”.

His last song ‘No More Songs’ is also brilliant. His guitar picking sometimes is a bit shaky but with his voice & words there is something enigmatic about this (6 years later he sadly took his own life). Next up is James Taylor with his distinctive voice & guitar, In his quietly mesmerizing voice – a combination of Bostonian accent and Southern drawl – Taylor lulled us seemingly effortlessly into a blissful euphoria  Taylor’s songs are much more well known with highlights being ‘Something In The Way She Moves’, ‘Fire & Rain’ and particularly the brilliant ‘Carolina In My Mind’ (always loved the version by Marmalade) are classics.

The hour was close to midnight when Joni walked on stage with her long blonde hair cascading over her guitar, and as she soared into “Chelsea Morning”, the whole stadium seemed to rise several inches off the ground. Equally at home on guitar, piano and dulcimer, she selected a range of songs from older albums as well as a few from the as-yet-unreleased “Blue”. Near the end of her set she called James back to sing a duet of “Mr. Tambourine Man”, and then both artists called their managers (Elliot Roberts and Peter Asher), and Terry David, onstage to join them in “Circle Game”. Joni Mitchell alternating between guitar & piano provides soothing type music. Joni seems a nice innocent lady & is the star here. Joni Mitchell even donating the cost of renting her grand piano. “Ladies Of The Canyon” had been released in April to acclaim, and ‘Melody Maker’ would vote her the Top Female Performer of 1970. She was as big a draw as we could possibly hope for.

When the piano chords of ‘Woodstock’ slowly starts up it is very moving. It’s an historic moment. 2nd from final track ‘A Case Of You’ is simply beautiful, brilliant & probably the highlight “I am a lonely painter I live in a box of paints I’m frightened by the devil & I’m drawn to the ones that aren’t”. Other highlights from Joni are ‘Big Yellow Taxi’, ‘Cactus Tree’, ‘For Free’. Perhaps should lose a mark for its recording quality but historically both musically & politically this concert is inspired & essential listening.

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