Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Carole King and James Taylor Troubador Reunion Concert - July 19, 2010, Oracle Arena

Monday night, Carole King and James Taylor proved that they've retained their musical charisma! We were treated to bluesy, soulful, playful, heartfelt musical energy! A once in a lifetime experience, seeing these two legendary singer/songwriters live! Their deep friendship was evident, and I really enjoyed the anecdotal banter about how or why a particular song was written, or how, while playing at the Los Angeles Troubadour Club 40 years ago, Taylor suggested that King write her own lyrics and record her own songs.  Many times, as an introduction to the next piece, Taylor payed tribute to King's songwriting talent by stating, "Another one of hers".  Here is a beautiful example of friendship that inspired one woman and one man to be their heartfelt, personal best - and changed the course of their professional lives and personal success.

The artists explained that they wanted to make the setting appear as like the Troubador Club, so they designed the closest seats as nightclub tables. Those premium seats raised $1.1 million dollars, split among their publicized charity, as well as Bay Area charities! There was a video screen way above the players, a sort of giant, circular lampshade shape that projected colorful graphics or videos from the past, in keeping with the theme of the songs. Occasionally, vintage photos of all the artists on stage appeared as well. That was a wonderful addition to the live experience!

Both artists poked fun at the fact it’s been a long time since their early success, stating they met back in 1903! They had several of their original studio recording group all playing together on this tour, and appreciated the fact they were together again. They opened with "Something in the Way She Moves", followed by "You're So Far Away", and the haunting narrative "Machine Gun".  Old favorites like "Shower the People" and "Mexico" followed soon after.  I loved Taylor's characterization of a few of their songs as "agnostic spirituals" (such as King's "Beautiful" and “Way Over Yonder”, and Taylor's "Country Road")! Taylor explained that “Sweet Baby James” was written from Boston to Carolina as he drove to meet his newborn nephew, James. He rendered "Steamroller" with comical physicality, in a light-hearted and fun manner - recreating his youthful attempts to project Muddy Waters and other blues artists' style. Of course, they played mainly from “Tapestry” and Taylor’s “Greatest Hits”, but their other selections were fantastic!  For example, King did a wonderful rendition of her ‘70’s hit “Jasmine”.

Overwhelming audience enthusiasm to King's "You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman)" and "It's Too Late" showed just how deeply these songs reflect the tapestry of the human experience. King briefly told of her youthful marriage to Goffen and their early songwriting success together. Then she began speaking of 1970, when she recorded “Tapestry”, allowing the audience to feel that nothing in the middle years compared to the experience of making her own, first album.

King and Taylor sang several moving duets, including King’s songs “Up on a Roof” and “Crying in the Rain” (a hit by the Everly Brothers). They were especially tender with their (slower tempo) rendition of "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow". The audience didn't want them to leave at the end of the show, and brought them back for two more songs. Applause continued, and Taylor hailed one more tune together, a sweet, friendship song, about remembering our time together, singing the song once we've left, and "staying as long as you like". At the close, the end of their tour, there were tears in King's eyes as she hugged Taylor. It was an unforgettable evening of music from two very memorable artists.

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