There is always something rather special and different about a James Taylor concert. The basic ingredients of a gig are all there of course, the hits, the great musicians to back him… yes in terms of a musical experience it’s all there, but there is something extra, something very special. That special extra is the man himself. We are all there because we love those beautiful songs, his intriguing guitar style and perhaps the memories of our younger days and some of the emotions that they evoke.
The real difference is his gentle charm and his unassuming nature. He genuinely seems to want to be there in our company. He plays down so much of his life and his talents, he refers to his former addictions philosophically and expresses thanks that, unlike so many of his friends, he has survived those downs. It make the whole a very special experience.
Playing two sets, even in the twenty minute interval he remains at the front of the stage and chats and signs autographs with his loyal fans, it’s a very full evening of both the familiar and the less so. He duets with a recovered and isolated track from an early session with Joni Mitchell, he covers two of Carole King’s great hits, the second with the most beautiful vocal harmonies from his backing singers, themselves stellar performers in their own right and he delivers Teach Me Tonight, from his American Standard album with yet another talent. That talent is to make even a cover version almost entirely his own.
His backing band on this occasion is truly star studded. Kate Markowitz, Arnold McCuller, Dorian Holley and Andrea Zonn who also adds some fine violin playing. On guitar Michael Landau, piano Larry Goldings, on bass Jimmy Johnson and on drums Steve Gadd, as a backing band it could not be much better and their presence is felt from gentle to full on rock with some fine solo playing but only when really necessary, there’s little showing off, just appropriate moments for solo expertise.
There’s little point in listing every song in an evening full of delights, Taylor knows what his audience will want and he delivers it with wit and with grace.
The Brighton Centre