Sunday, November 30, 2014

James Taylor Still Sweet

My memory can sometimes be a failing thing, so last night was either the fourth or the fifth time that Marilyn and I saw the great James Taylor in concert.  

The venue last night was the Consol Energy Center, and what can you say?  Taylor and his terrific All-Star Band delivered everything that a fan would want and could possibly expect.  "Fire and Rain", "Up on the Roof", "You've Got a Friend" as well as over a dozen other Taylor standards?  Yep, they were all in there, along with a couple of new songs (a great country blues love song called "Today, Today, Today", for example), some lesser known tracks from old albums, and an old (hundreds of years old, according to JT) Scottish ballad called "Wild Mountain Thyme" to close the night two hours and forty minutes after it began.

We loved the way Taylor talked to the audience throughout the show.  Self-deprecating and humorous, these riffs made the Consol seem like an intimate place.  He told a great story about how back in 1968 he auditioned for some executives for a new record company in London.  The record company was Apple, and the "executives" were Paul McCartney and George Harrison, who immediately signed the twenty year old Taylor to their new label.  He told about how he hung around the Abbey Road Studios that summer recording, while "the lads" were recording what came to be know as the White Album.  "I wish I could remember everything that happened, but I'm sure we all had a great time", he said.

Taylor is now 66 year old.  He has aged very well, and his voice sounds exactly the way it did when you first heard it back in your college days - or my college days, anyway - in the early Seventies.  And what a professional.  How many times do you suppose James Taylor has sung "Fire and Rain" or "You've Got a Friend"?  Thousands? Tens of thousands?  Do you suppose that there might ever be an occasion when he might just go through the motions on stage and phone it in sometime?  Well, he sure didn't last night.

We first saw James Taylor live at the Blossom Music Center in Ohio back in 1976 or -77 when we were living in Cleveland.  I know that we also saw him at Star Lake Amphitheater back in the early '00's, and sometime I believe a performance at Heinz Hall or the Benedum was sandwiched in there, so as I said, last night was either the fourth or fifth time we've seen him, and I can pretty much guarantee that we will see him again whenever the "Country Road" leads him back the Western Pennsylvania again.

A word on the Consol Energy Center.

This was only my second visit to this "new" arena, and it was Marilyn's first.  It really is a nice place.  It was the first time we saw a concert there and the sound, the acoustics, and the sight lines were wonderful.  The blackout curtains were drawn over the upper bowl of the Arena, so the place seemed quite intimate for a huge sports arena.  Very impressive as a concert venue.

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