James Taylor is one of our greatest American musicians! He has received the Kennedy Center Honors as well as five Grammys. He was the original JT long before the other JT came along! Mr. Taylor has been playing and writing music since the mid-60’s. He has been inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Songwriter’s Hall and was the first American artist to be signed to the Beatles “Apple” label. He has received the highest honor to a civilian, the Presidential Medal of Freedom!
As the audience filed in, the atmosphere was mellow. The stage graphics for the opening set was that of a home. Taylor opened with the classic “Carolina in my Mind” the state of his childhood and kicking the show off with an intimate feel even though there were 10,000 in attendance. He has a 10 piece band and singers to accompany him, all top of the line musicians. His wife Kim joined in on a couple of songs with the background singers making it a family affair. He talked about missing Bonnie Raitt opening for him and assured the audience that Bonnie is going to be “just fine” and had the cameraman take a video of the audience yelling for Bonnie. Ms. Raitt had to cancel due to a health issue.
“Country Road”, “Don’t Let Me Lonely Tonight”, “Handy Man” were all in the 1st set ending with a rousing rendition of “Mexico” getting the audience on their feet and the horn section in sombreros! James held up a setlist for the 2nd set coming up to entice you back to your seat after a 20 minute intermission, which he uses to stand near the stage and sign autographs and take photos. A nice personal touch for a 70-year-old legend who doesn’t really need to do it but takes the time to thank the audience for coming. With decades in recovery from heroin addiction, James Taylor gives back in many ways. He is an environmental and political activist. He performed for the MIT slain officer Sean Collier’s Memorial Service who was killed by the Boston Bombers.
The second half of the show brings James talking about his friend and fellow songwriter, Carole King, who he says is the “best songwriter” he knows. Singing “Up on the Roof” with images of the Empire State Building and the buildings of NYC behind him is fitting. More incredible hits, “Fire and Rain”, “Sweet Baby James” and a kickin’ version of Wilson Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour” that was incredible! A moving tribute to the Parkland Douglas High shooting victims he had met the night before was “Shed a Little Light” which honors Dr. Martin Luther King. He closed the night with the Carole King penned “You’ve Got a Friend” for which both of them have made famous and was a goose-bump sing-along moment. We are so lucky to have such a gifted singer-songwriter in James Taylor, a real American musical treasure.
Photos by Vicky Sullivan / Rock the Lens Photography