Both Sides Now: Joni Mitchell Live at the Isle of Wight


When Joni Mitchell took the stage Saturday afternoon, August 29th 1970, the Isle of Wight Festival had already seen its share of tumult. The promoters created, at great expense, one of the era’s finest concert lineups, including Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Miles Davis, Emerson Lake and Palmer, The Doors and many more.

Fences were broken down while a radical movement were pushing to declare the venture a free festival. All these artists played through what Joni termed “mountains of amplifiers” and could easily drown out any unruly audience. Joni, however, had only an acoustic guitar, a dulcimer, a piano., and her own singular voice.

Joni Mitchell herself leads the viewer through a blow-by-blow of one of the most difficult performances of her career, face-to-face with what she calls “a beast”: a rowdy audience who literally try to hijack the show. Nearly breaking down, she summons the strength to win their respect and quiet them down. She delivers an incredibly emotional and ultimately triumphant performance, including her iconic masterpieces “Woodstock”, “Big Yellow Taxi”, and “Both Sides Now”.

Academy Award-Winning Director Murray Lerner (Mao To Mozart, Festival!) creates a masterful addition to the Isle of Wight canon of films with Joni’s excellent performance. The film features Joni Mitchell in a modern interview, explaining the events and her reactions. The complete performance is also intercut with vintage footage from the festival attendees and the promoters to give better context to Joni’s personal recollections from the Isle of Wight in what is one of the most unique and memorable performances of the era.

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