There are many ways to communicate emotion through music.
Joni Mitchell sang her poetry, often in a distinctive rhythm and with enchanting vocal agility; Carlos Santana spoke through his guitar and regularly conveyed meaning purely through instrumentation.
Both, though, were from the Woodstock era; Santana came to fame as a last-minute replacement act at the legendary festival, while Joni’s appearance there was thwarted forcing her to watch the event on television. While the two did not grace the same stage back in 1969, the spirit of the great artists was summoned at The Jade (20 July) during Sacred Fire 2 as part of Umbrella: Winter City Sounds.
Opening the evening was Delia Olam with her Adelaide Fringe award winning Joni Mitchell cabaret show, ‘Daughter’. She was followed by Lenin Marrón and the Supernatural band, who played a set predominately inspired by Santana’s 1993 concert in Mexico.
Delia and Lenin were both inspired at an early age by their idols: Delia recalls listening to Joni’s iconic ‘Blue’ on her first teenage car ride without adults, while Lenin was gifted Santana’s 'Live In Mexico' DVD by an uncle. Their devotion was evident in the skill with which they replicated the technically demanding material.
Listening to their music as children indeed lit a sacred fire within their souls. While Joni and Santana served as inspiration for the duo as artists, so too did they serve as teachers about life.
Delia, like Joni, began as a bohemian artist before being irreversibly altered by the realities of motherhood. Santana’s ‘Live In Mexico’ album was dedicated to Cesar Chavez, a famed unionist who fought for the rights of American farm workers. Lenin dedicated part of the evening to an uncle who tragically lost his life on a construction site a few years ago.
Delia’s set was a cabaret show, while Lenin’s was a concert. This disparity did cause some minor difficulties. During a concert, audiences customarily arrive sporadically and then make occasionally trips to the bar. A cabaret show is generally more akin to a theatre environment, where the audience takes their seats and remain until the end.
Delia’s show heavily involved audience interaction, which was slightly complicated by the less controlled environment. She was endearing and confident enough as a performer to navigate these difficulties. When she makes mistakes though, as all performers do, she needs to learn to persevere as though nothing has happened rather than acknowledging the error.
She is a captivating artist who will be forgiven for the occasional lapse and most will not even notice unless it is pointed out to them. Her vocal delivery and the narrative of her show remained powerfully moving despite some technical difficulties.
While Delia’s set was played to a seated audience, during the Santana set the audience was transported to their younger days as they busted out dance moves honed decades earlier. One eager fan comically rolled up the carpet on the floor, as his routine required a smoother surface to perform. It was evident how much the music still meant to them.
The fire started by Joni and Santana will forever burn, as with their music they pass the torch.