Sunday, June 20, 2010

James Taylor and Carole King in Concert, part 2


Wachovia Center, Philadelphia PA, Thursday June 10, 2010
The Troubadour Reunion Tour
The Concert
I got back to my seat partway through the second song, the CK classic So Far Away, having missed the artists taking the stage and doing the opening number, Blossom. At this point it was JT and CK on stage by themselves, and the sound quality was terrific - well-miked and crystal clear acoustic guitar and piano, with excellent vocal mix. The applause at the end of the second song was thunderous, and many of the middle aged and older crowd were standing. This would be typical of the rest of the show; standing O after standing O from perhaps the most appreciative crowd I have ever seen at a concert of any type.

The rest of their band joined them for the third song, Machine Gun Kelly, and consisted of Danny Kortchmar on electric guitar, Lee Sklar on bass and Russ Kunkel on drums. These same three were the band for the Troubadour shows in the early 1970s that the reunion was based on. JT's joking introductions of them were spot on - Kortchmar looks like Al Pacino, Sklar looks like Old Man Winter, and Kunkel looks like Mr Clean. There was also an additional keyboard player at times, and 3 backing vocalists.

Carolina in My Mind was up next, followed by Way Over Yonder, Smackwater Jack, Country Road, Sweet Seasons, and a terrific version of Mexico that had the older crowd dancing.

The set list was really well constructed. JT songs and CK songs were mixed nicely, softer songs with more up tempo stuff, duets with larger group harmonies. One other nice thing that they both did that you don't often get at shows it seems, is a lot of banter between songs. JT proved to have a very dry sense of humor, and was very funny in an understated way, and CK was very bubbly and energetic. All the more impressive I guess in light of the fact that he is 62 and she is a hard-to-believe 68. Both were very talkative, and it was very nice to hear the back stories about the events of way back in the day, background of songs, and all that. Generally you seem to be lucky if you get "Hello Philadelphia!" and "Thank you! Good night!".

Song of Long Ago, Long Ago and Far Away, Beautiful, Shower the People, and (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman rounded out the first half of the show. Natural Woman was one of the highlights of the first half, with CK belting out the vocals in impressive fashion, even if she is no Aretha Franklin.

After the first hour and 20 minutes of music and then a 15 minute intermission, the artists took the stage for the second half. Where You Lead, Crying in the Rain (a song I didn't know but really enjoyed) and Your Smiling Face kicked off the second set. JT then told the story of writing the next song as a cowboy lullaby for his nephew, Sweet Baby James.

Fantastic song after fantastic song, and many that we all knew by heart. As the night wore on, I had the feeling, more so than at concerts for bands that I have a much greater love for, that I was fortunate to be at this event with a pair of absolute legends. It's hard to attempt to put into words, but there was just something magical in the air, and it certainly seemed like the rest of the crowd felt it too.

Jazzman was next, followed by Will You Love Me Tomorrow, a CK song that I would have to say now ranks of one of my favorite songs of the moment. Great melody, great lyrics, great song. I had a hard time believing that I heard it right when CK said that this song was the first song that she co-wrote that became a number 1 the age of 17!!! Kinda makes me feel... I don't know... like an underachiever!

A hilarious version of Steamroller followed. The band managed to do a fine job at the song while JT was also having a good time spoofing an older white guy playing the blues. The back story on this one was funny as well; he said he and the band wrote this at a time when everybody wanted to play the blues, and that it took longer to play the song than it did to write it.

The second set ended with a string of classics: It's Too Late, Fire and Rain, I Feel the Earth Move and You've Got a Friend. Amazing stuff. I kept thinking that it couldn't get any better and then it did. Song after song each better than the last.

The band left the stage briefly, the crowd went nuts, and they came back with a CK song made famous by the Drifters, Up on the Roof, followed by How Sweet It Is. All the accompanists and backup singers took their bows to a thunderous standing ovation, and then made their way off stage, leaving JT and CK seated on stools at stage front, where they sang a hauntingly beautiful duet of You Can Close Your Eyes with just JT on acoustic guitar.

The ovation as they took their final bows was as loud as anything I have heard at a concert, and went on so long I almost thought they would have to come back out, but then the house lights came up and the crowd obediently quieted down and made their way to the exits. 2 hours and forty minutes of music; 28 songs. I still get a chill thinking about how much I loved this concert. The quality of the musicianship was outstanding, the songs were one classic after another, and as I said earlier, there was just something magical about the whole night. I was fortunate to have been there, and will treasure the memory of it.

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