Some people grew up with The Beatles or The Beach Boys. Others with Neil Young or the Stones. Some even grew up with AC/DC. In my household it was always James Taylor. My dad was obsessed with the man; no other artist yielded more playing time on the record player (and then later the CD player) than James Taylor. Being a typical kid, I didn’t like it. I had my own style of music. Time passed and early teen became late teen, then twenty-something. And then I changed my mind. I began to see merit in my dad’s steadfast appreciation of Taylor and his music. But I never got around to seeing him live.
The other weekend I was in Portland (well, across the river in Vancouver) for my grandmother’s 90th birthday and my parents picked up a ticket for me to see James Taylor and Carole King perform at the Rose Garden. As this was the first time attending a show of his, I was pretty excited.
The joint tour was (and is, as it continues across the states) in support of the duo’s release Carole King and James Taylor: Live at the Troubadour CD/DVD combo, available now. The release debuted at #4 on Billboard’s Top 200, and sold more than 75,000 copies in the first week. The album was recorded when the duo, accompanied by their original band including Danny Kortchmar, Leland Sklar and Russell Kunkel, attended the Troubadour venue’s 50th anniversary.
Taylor and King, at 62 and 68 respectively, are lively performers. They dashed across the rotating, circular stage at the Rose Garden like teenagers. “A Natural Woman” found King jumping from one space to the next, while her other hits found her more often than not at the piano. Taylor, too, moved around a bit, though he perched comfortably on a stool for the hit favorite “Fire & Rain”.
The Taylor/King duo played all their hits. I, having grown up with Taylor, was familiar with all of his. “Carolina In My Mind”, “You’ve Got A Friend”, “Mexico”. Of note were “Sweet Baby James” thanks to a stellar vocal performance by one of the lead backup singers (apologies, as I cannot remember his name), and the crowd went wild for “Steamroller”.
With an intermission and two encores, the performance lasted nearly three hours and received several standing ovations. It was their first performance in the states, having just returned from a few international dates, and their set was fresh. While I prefer the raw early stuff, I’m not above giving masters like these a hefty nod when they deserve it. James Taylor and Carole King definitely deserve it; their abilities remain sharp and they still know how to give an audience a great time.
The above photo of James Taylor and Carole King was taken at the San Jose performance of the Troubadour Tour and is courtesy rocor.