Joni Mitchell’s birthday party is making its way to the big screen. Fans who lamented they weren’t able to attend a sold-out pair of all-star Mitchell tribute concerts in L.A. two months ago will get their chance when Trafalgar Releasing puts a filmed version of the shows into theaters nationwide for a one-night screening February 7.
“The Music Center Presents Joni 75: A Birthday Celebration” will be shown in cinemas in the U.S. and Mitchell’s native Canada, with tickets going on sale today. A soundtrack album is also going up for advance sale from Verve, with a March 1 release date.
The artists who participated in the Music Center shows Nov. 6-7 included contemporaries of Mitchell’s who also came along in the late 1960s, like James Taylor, Graham Nash and Kris Kristofferson, along with longtime friend Chaka Khan, who recorded with Mitchell in the ’70s. The rest of the diverse slate of stars on hand to happily own up to her influence included Diana Krall, Seal, Emmylou Harris, Brandi Carlile, Norah Jones, Rufus Wainwright and Glen Hansard.
The second of the two shows indeed took place on Mitchell’s 75th birthday, with the honoree — who had mostly stayed out of view after being beset with health issues a few years ago — taking the stage to blow out birthday candles during a full-cast finale.
Variety‘s account of the Music Center gala pointed out that “Carlile and Krall were the two singers who sounded most uncannily like Mitchell in certain moments,” but also singled out for high praise Seal’s performance of “A Strange Boy,” “the strangeness of which he knocked out of the park,” and noted that “Wainwright, Jones and Hansard turned in knockout numbers that would have made them singular MVPs on just about any other night of the year.”
At the time, it was understood that the Music Center shows were being shot for PBS’s “Great Performances,” but Trafalgar’s theatrical release gives the filming a much higher profile… and provides an all-star event during Grammy week that the TV awards show itself will have to strive to live up to.
Other concert films Trafalgar Releasing has put on the big screen for singular nationwide showings recently include “Coldplay: A Head Full of Dreams,” the BTS vehicle “Burn the Stage: The Movie” and “Muse: Drone World Tour,” on top of traditional theatrical arthouse releases like “The Lobster,” “Elle,” “Swiss Army Man” and “The Imposter.”