James Taylor @ Bethel Woods Center for The Arts, Bethel, NY

Live Reviews | By on Jul 21st, 2014

James Taylor

Date: July 20th 2014
Band Link: http://www.jamestaylor.com/

On a gorgeous Sunday evening in Bethel, NY James Taylor finally made his long awaited debut at Bethel Woods. It was very fitting that he chose to make that debut on the year that marks the 45th anniversary of the legendary Woodstock concert that took place here in 1969. Fans who were disappointed that James Taylor overlooked Bethel in 2010 when he toured with Carole King were literally dancing in their seats last night as he played his near 3 hour set(s).

Taylor casually strolled on stage around 8.20pm and stood at the front of the stage admiring the sold-out crowd that had come to see him play. After accepting applause for a few moments he sat on a stool center stage and picked up his signature acoustic guitar and launched into one of his all-time classics “Something In the Way she Moves”, Taylor informed the audience that the “holy host of others standing around me” he sings about is this song was The Beatles, He used this song, his opener to audition for The Beatles Apple records back in 1968. the cheer that the crowd gave when he strummed the opening chords of that song let us know that Taylor already had the audience in the palm of his hand. He played a new track from his upcoming new album as his second song “Today,Today,Today” an upbeat number. Taylor,at 66, and unlike some of his peers (thankfully) continues to release relevant albums with solid material every few years. Taylor travels and performs with an extensive backing band, including 2 percussionists and 4 backing singers-each of them an independent artist in their own right. His band really added something new and great to some of the older gems such as “Lo and Behold” giving it a real gospel feel and sound.

Taylor is also known for his humor- he had a memorable, and hilarious cameo in Judd Apatows movie “Funny People” . Tonight he cracked jokes and wise cracks throughout his set with her warm,witty humor and even mentioned “hippy-dippy bullshit” when talking about the broadway musical that his song “Millworker” was used in, that song “Millworker” was also previously covered by Emmylou Harris. Taylor told the crowd that they were going to be having an intermission shortly and then told the story of his next song “Sweet Baby James”, which he wrote for and about his Nephew James after his brother told him that he named him after JT. He finished the 1-2 song punch with his signature song “You’ve got a friend”which, of course was not written by him but the aforementioned Carole King, he joked how when he first heard Carole play that song in Los Angeles he didn’t realize that he would be singing it every night for the rest of his life. Needless to say, a mass singalong followed leading nicely into the intermission. The band left the stage and James Taylor casually took a seat at the front of the stage and spent the entire 25 minutes greeting his fans and signing posters,CDs,Tickets etc and posing for photos (including a “selfie” with yours truly!) A noble, humble and generous showman indeed.

The 2nd half of the show continued with classic after classic including a lovely rendition of his wedding song favorite “Only One” and a lovely cover of “Handyman” which featured on 1977’s “JT” album. He introuced his band throughout the show but Luis Contas his percussionist from Cuba really shone during “Mexico” which sparked off more dancing in the seats and on the lawn-who Taylor greeted early! the 2nd encore featued another famous Taylor cover of a Marvin Gaye song “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By you) and the always lovely JT original “Shower The People”. As people started to exit the venue sensing the show was almost over Taylor and his band closed out a very memorable evening with a gorgeous version of the old celtic classic “Will Ye go, Lassie Go”. And go, we all did, until we met the standing-still traffic in the parking lots….but more than a few of us had more JT lined on our car stereo to keep us company until we finally got home. A great night. Come back soon JT!

Setlist

Something in the Way She Moves
Today, Today, Today
Lo and Behold
Copperline
Everyday
(Buddy Holly cover)
Country Road
Millworker
Carolina in My Mind
One More Go Round
Sweet Baby James
You’ve Got a Friend
(Carole King cover)
Set 2:
Stretch of the Highway
You and I
Handy Man
(Sparks of Rhythm cover)
Hour That the Morning Comes
Steamroller Blues
Only One
Fire and Rain
Up on the Roof
(The Drifters cover)
Mexico
Your Smiling Face
Encore:
How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)
(Marvin Gaye cover)
Shower the People
Will Ye Go Lassie Go
([traditional] cover)

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