By Carol Anne Szel
There was something in the way she moved, and she’s around him now, almost all the time. James Taylor and Carole King celebrated with a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night, bringing their Troubador Reunion Tour back to their roots in NYC in an intimate café setting of 18,000 hometown friends.
Taylor and King strolled up onto the round center-arena stage hand-in-hand, surrounded by a ring of café tables with people sitting on stools, a setting that suited this musical team to the soul after their 40 year friendship of both song and life.
Followed onstage by legendary Bass player Leland Sklar, who himself has been with James Taylor and Carole King for the better part of those 40 years, and who has recorded on more than 2,000 artist releases over the span of his brilliant career.
The trio settled in as the crowds roaring welcome hushed and went into the James Taylor song that got him signed by Apple Records in 1969, “Something In The Way She Moves.” The crowd of seasoned fans were singing along, clearly touched as they played the tunes that moved us through the tapestry of our own lives.
Followed up by “So Far Away” with King on piano, Taylor on guitar, and Sklar on bass, the rest of the band of veteran musicians joined them onstage to round out the ‘family.’ With guitarist Danny “Kootch” Kortchmar on guitar and Russ Kunkel on drums, the show went on featuring hit after hit of these two musical legends including iconic “Fire and Rain,” “Sweet Seasons,” “You’ve Got A Friend,” and “It’s Too Late” and a couple of dozen more hits which included chart toppers and Grammy Award winning songs.
As James Taylor settled onto his stool he led into his world by confessed to the intimately attuned crowd that when he and Carole King were first bantering around ideas for the set list of the tour, they originally came up with about six hours of material to play. As the crowd cheered in joy, Taylor shook his head and said it was like abandoning a baby by leaving some tunes by the wayside in order to take the show on the road, but it had to be done!
A circular photo album of sorts sat above the round rotating stage, slowly flashing old photos, some childhood shots as the members were introduced, and many pictures which took us down the path of memory lane illuminating the lives in images of Carole King and James Taylor’s rich musical history.
Two of the many highlights that stand out of the show was the poignant moment when James Taylor sat and sang arguably his most famous hit, “Sweet Baby James,” the tune written decades ago for his nephew. The standing ovation at the close of that tune went on for minutes as he gave the crowd a humble tip of his hat.
A next peak came when Carole King, mic in hand, who at the age of 68 strutted and danced and pranced around the stage more vigorously than a woman half her age, to her rip-roaring tune “Natural Woman.” The crowd was on their feet, dancing and swirling and singing at the top of their lungs as, once again, it felt like a party for 18,000 of your closest friends.
Their voices were as crisp as they were when they recorded them decades ago, the band of brothers were on top of their game, and the night was an evening of musical revelry that, at least for this journalist, will live on in the tapestry of my life.
Photo credit Elissa Kline (top)
Photo credit Carol Anne Szel (bottom)