Joni Mitchell will celebrate her upcoming 75th birthday with the archival release of her famous 1970 Isle of Wight Festival performance. The nine-time Grammy winner will release the concert documentary “Both Sides Now: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970” in Blu-ray and digital formats on Sept. 14 via Eagle Rock.
The legendary Canadian singer-songwriter's “Live at the Isle of Wight” release is a must-have for both hardcore and casual Mitchell fans, as well as for music and history buffs with an interest in the turbulent late 60s – early 70s era. Mitchell's powerful and controversial 11-song set serves as a microcosm for both the good and bad aspects of the historic five-day event, which drew an estimated 700,000 spectators.
The massive and unruly Isle of Wight audience proves a formidable challenge for the 1997 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, who had only recently achieved pop stardom with her 1970 single “Big Yellow Taxi,” and had yet to earn the superstar status that would come in 1974 with the chart-topping and critically heralded studio album Court and Spark. Performing on a highly eclectic bill beside legendary rock acts like The Doors and The Who in front of the largest festival audience in history to that point, Mitchell faces a huge disadvantage as a solo folk artist and is justifiably intimidated by the massive Isle of Wight audience from the outset.
Mitchell bravely takes the stage alone with her acoustic guitar in hand. Nervously joking that the crowd looked like a scene out of the epic film “Ben Hur,” she opens with “That Song About the Midway” from her sophomore 1969 album Clouds and receives a warm response initially.
The beloved artist follows with her self-penned song “Chelsea Morning” - a hit the previous year for Judy Collins – but ends the song abruptly as members of the audience begin to shout and drown her out. The multi-platinum seller moves to the piano and performs a track from her 1970 Ladies of the Canyon album “For Free,” but encounters further obstacles as sound and film crews mill around her and struggle with the sound mix.
Following a soul-stirring performance of her 60s folk-rock anthem “Woodstock,” a drugged-out hippy somehow gains access backstage and security merely watches as he accosts the beleaguered singer at the piano and grabs at her microphone to make a speech. After laughable attempts by stagehands to reason with the man prove fruitless, security finally wrestles the troublemaker off the stage as the crowd begins to boo and jeer in protest.
Clearly shaken, Mitchell attempts to continue and begins the piano prelude to “My Old Man,” which she later releases on her 1971 studio album Blue. As the hostile audience continues to disrupt her attempts to perform, Mitchell bravely confronts them in a famous sequence in which she tells the offenders that they're “acting like tourists” and demands that they “show some respect.”
Directed by the late Murray Lerner, "Both Sides Now: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970" features Mitchell's 11-song set, expanded with new behind-the-scenes footage along with Mitchell's contemporary commentary or fans can enjoy the set uninterrupted as a stand-alone performance. It is available for preorder here in Blu-ray or digital formats. For all the latest details on Joni Mitchell, click here.