James Taylor Network
Fan community dedicated to singer/songwriter James Taylor.
James Taylor Network
Fan community dedicated to singer/songwriter James Taylor.
Concert Review / Photos / Tour 2017

James Taylor filled Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday night with nearly two hours and half a century of American music staples.

Ranging from the set’s first song “Carolina in My Mind” to the final encore, an acoustic duet with opening act Bonnie Raitt on “You Can Close Your Eyes,” Taylor’s masterfully delicate guitar work stamped each song as his mellow voice slid through the lyrics.

“Nashville! It’s been a while,” he said at the conclusion of “Carolina in My Mind.” “It’s all about this incredible band,” he added gesturing to the players behind him, including a percussionist, two horn players, a keyboardist, three backup singers, an additional guitarist and a violinist. “It’s the light of my life to get to play with them.”

“A Nashville cat?” he asked. “Apparently when you are a significant part of the music scene here, they make you a Nashville Cat. Who decides that?”

The combination of the singer’s sharp wit, stage set and soft style made the evening reminiscent of an intimate, elaborate living room concert in which the singer told jokes and talked to friends between songs.

“I was abroad for a year,” he said, pausing. “That never sounds right. When I was overseas.”

The joke was the set up for his classic “Sweet Baby James,” a song he wrote on his way to see his newborn namesake nephew upon the singer’s return from England.

“I went to see the little varmint myself,” Taylor said. “I thought, ‘This calls for a cowboy lullaby, a Gene Autry kind of thing.’ ”

Taylor barraged the audience with cute photos of his pug during “Sunny Skies” and recalled the song that started his career – “Something in the Way She Moves.” Taylor explained it was the first song he ever wrote, then clarified it was his first song he wrote that he would play in public. It was also the song that led him to The Beatles. Taylor said he played “Something in the Way She Moves” for Paul McCartney and George Harrison.  [tennessean.com]

Concert Review / Photos / Tour 2017

Taylor’s nearly two-hour show was a lesson is masterful storytelling – both in conversation and lyrics – and enduring songs.

Yes, maybe some of those ballads are a little TOO soothing when presented in a batch, but when you’re the guy who has written “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely” and “Fire and Rain,” you pretty much have musical carte blanche for life.

Taylor’s clean stage made ample use of a video screen that glowed with scenic backdrops, close-ups of the musicians on stage and, during “Sunny Skies,” his adorable pug, Ting.

Those who have shared concert time with Taylor know that he’s as famous for his dry wit as he is his subtly terrific guitar work.

“It means a lot to me, that last one,” he said after “October Road,” the title track to his 2002 album. “This next one means nothing to me.”

He was kidding, of course, as he and his ace band dove into “Steamroller,” complete with musical breakdowns by Walt Fowler on trumpet and Larry Goldings on organ. Taylor, 69, duck-walked across the stage to catch guitarist Michael Landau uncork a stinging solo, then goofily improvised lyrics and pulled a few bluesman faces to end the song.

Throughout the set, Taylor’s voice was creamy and emotive, pausing in the right spots to allow saxophonist Lou Marini to present a sleek solo in “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely” and following the percussive thrust of Luis Conte on “Mexico.”

He also told the origin story about “Something in the Way She Moves” from his Apple Records debut – a particularly noteworthy sidebar considering several members of Paul McCartney’s band were in the audience (Macca plays the venue on Thursday).

“I played this for Paul McCartney and George Harrison in 1968 and the world changed for me that day,” Taylor said. “It was like walking through a door and the rest of my life was on the other side of it.”

The lullaby “Sweet Baby James” (a lone concertgoer with a cigarette lighter flicked it overhead during the ballad) and the emotional see-saw that is “Fire and Rain” – with some delicate drum rolls added for effect – maintained the mellow mood, but Taylor prepared a string of uptempo singalongs to ensure the audience left with smiling faces.  [music.blog.ajc.com]

Photos / Tour 2017

James Taylor performs at the Prudential Center in Newark on Thursday, July 6, 2017.