Brandi Carlile’s performance of Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” album at L.A.’s Disney Hall in late 2019, which has become nearly the stuff of legend, was not a one-off after all. Carlile is set to reprise that program, two years later, at Carnegie Hall, with a single performance of the album set for Nov. 6 at New York’s most storied theater space.
Tickets for the show go on sale to Carlile’s “Bramily” fan club members Tuesday at 11 a.m. ET, with a public pre-sale set for Wednesday at the same time and a general on-sale Thursday, again at 11 a.m.
When Carlile announced a single performance of the album at Disney Hall on Oct. 14, 2019, it was an instant sellout and the hottest ticket in Los Angeles that season. Mitchell, who has had Carlile as a frequent guest at her home in her retirement, attended the gig, as did admirers of both singers like Elton John.
Of course, there’s even more official occasion to do a show this year, with 2021 marking the 50th anniversary of “Blue,” and dozens if not hundreds of think-pieces having been written about the landmark LP in the first half of the year.
The Disney Hall show was a “you had to be there” moment, captured neither on video nor audio (and certainly not on cell phones, given the strict policy that evening). No word yet on whether Carlile has plans to capture this or any other possible performance of “Blue” for posterity.
Variety raved about the Disney Hall show in 2019, writing, “This was, by any standard, an event: a set of 10 confessional songs that, by acclimation, is one of the landmark albums of the previous century, brought back to life by the best pure singer we’ve had in this one. … The 38-year-old singer has nerves even steelier than her vocal cords are pliable. Mitchell is as impossible to emulate as a ridiculously tricky singer, songwriter and picker as they come… In the ’60s and onward, Mitchell was revolutionary in how she would float from a casually conversational tone into a devastating falsetto without making any of the seemingly necessary stops in-between. But that’s always been peculiarly true of Carlile, too. … Confession and conversation finally gave into the high, wordless aria that closes ‘The Last Time I Saw Richard,’ which may have left the crowd tattooed for some time to come with the thought of the last time they saw nirvana.”
Variety‘s account recounted some of the explanation Carlile gave for her tribute at that initial show.
“I’m gonna ask the question that you’re all wondering: Why the hell did I decide to do this?” she asked aloud. “None of us get the chance to see ‘Blue’ live. So I’m listening right alongside you tonight and enjoying this classic and amazing album, just like you are. And I’m not here to reinvent the wheel. I really haven’t put my own spin on hardly any of this music. I’ve just worked my ass off to try and learn and sing it to the best of my ability… So tonight isn’t about me; it’s not about ego: It’s about you getting to hear ‘Blue’ live.” Plus, in the macro sense, Carlile said, “I feel like we are living in a very unique time, because I don’t think anybody ever tapped themselves on the shoulder and said, ‘Holy shit, we’re alive at the same time as Shakespeare!’ Right? I am not exaggerating when I say that Joni Mitchell will be remembered that way, and we should all pinch ourselves” to be sharing that time, that airspace. “And if there’s anything to celebrate in these trying times, it’s that.”
Carlile won’t be having any shortage of performances of her own material this fall. She releases a new album, “In These Silent Days,” her first since 2018, on Oct. 1, just two weeks before her Mitchell salute, and will be touring behind it throughout the fall. She often does at least one song from “Blue” in her regular shows and may be doing so when she does a livestream of her show from the Gorge in Washington state on Aug. 14.