FRINGE REVIEW: A Case of You: The Music of Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell: Pioneer of 70s female representation in music, skilled conveyor of the human condition and possessor of a voice of near inimitable tone and clarity. It is safe to say that a lot was to be expected of Deborah Brennan prior to delivering a show dedicated to the music of such a folk legend — but in a beautiful palette of narrative conversation with the audience interjected with performances of some of Mitchell's greatest numbers, Brennan and her delightful two-piece accompaniment — Liam Garcia-Hardman and Chris Neale — managed to well and truly deliver.
The laid-back, ambient atmosphere of the underground bar at His Majesty's theatre created exactly the intimacy required for Joni Mitchell's music — whether it be the personal, homesick notes of 'California' or the ultra-renowned closing number 'Big Yellow Taxi', popularised over the years as Joni's hallmark track.
It becomes clear, particularly as the introductory numbers have finished, that whilst A Case of You is something of a tribute show to Joni Mitchell's music, it is not intended to be purely imitative. As Deborah Brennan, sometimes over the lulled twang of guitar chords or melancholic piano tones, introduces each of the tunes she is to sing, interwoven are stories of a very personal nature: tales of loss, humour and love all under the blanket of her teen-found love of the Canadian folk singer. Her very own performance serves as a demonstration of the distinctive quality of Joni Mitchell's songs: they enable every listening individual to relate in some way or other to the ideas presented, attaching their own stories and meaning to what they hear.
A modern and individualistic turn has also been taken in A Case of You with the use of guitar, percussion and vocal backing by Liam Garcia-Underwood and Chris Neale, as well as pianist Deborah Brennan's use of keyboard in accompaniment of herself. Some of the most beautiful moments in the show, in fact, come in the form of richly harmonised lines, creating a lusciously textured rug of aural aesthetic. The beat and energy given to the numbers well and truly could be said to 'freshen' them up for an introductory audience, giving them some of the energy of modern music.
A Case of You is a show that will make you laugh at Brennan's humour and skill in storytelling, andcry as you comprehend the depth of Joni Mitchell's most heartfelt and soul-singing lyrics. The titular number, arguably the best of the night, is delivered with such technical skill coupled with raw feeling that it may just bring a tear to even the most closed-hearted person. For age-old fans and Joni-virgins alike, book a ride in your closest 'Big Yellow Taxi' to go and see A Case of You: a poignant, imaginative and dynamic tribute to an artist who has touched so many.