Sunday 17 July 2011

Oh So Sweet Baby James

JAMES TAYLOR, Bournemouth BIC, 14th July 2011:
I was really looking forward to this gig, and it didn't disappoint. It would be hard to find a more amiable entertainer to spend an evening with than James Taylor. The legendary singer-songwriter with the unchanging beautiful voice sings with a smile you can hear and creates an intimate, friendly atmosphere. He’s like a fine wine that just matures and grows better with age. This show is a trip down memory lane for James, and we're all more than happy to be taken along. Most songs are familiar, some more obscure, but every one's a winner, delivered with a story that puts them in context. His band of excellent musicians and backing vocalists were note perfect throughout including pianist Larry Goldings, backing vocalist & fiddle player Andrea Zonn, lead guitarist Michael Landau and an extra special word here for the relatively unknown but appropriately named drummer Chad Wackerman who sat quietly at the back of the stage but who was superb and right on the money for the whole evening, playing an understated but nailed on perfect set.

The concert opened with the Buddy Holly song Everyday and during the rest of the evening we heard other classic Taylor songs such as Blossom, Something In The Way She Moves Me, Mexico, the Carole King penned Up On The Roof, Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight, Line ‘Em Up, How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You, Copperline and the popular Your Smiling Face. We also listened to Jump Up Behind Me, about the time his father drove to New York to rescue a teenage James after a failed band project, Angry Blues, written in the throes of a hangover, one of my personal favourites the beautifully crafted and well written The Secret Of Life and perhaps the stand-out song of the evening was My Travelling Star (one of many variations he's written on the theme of being torn between home and the open road). There was a raunchy version of Steamroller Blues which always sounds so different every time Taylor performs it and a beautiful rendition of the charming Shower The People that highlighted just how good the backing singers were.

And when the long-awaited favourites take their turn - Sweet Baby James, Fire and Rain, Carolina In My Mind and the encore song You've Got a Friend - they're delivered faithfully and with the same feeling as when they were first recorded, to a pin-drop silent audience appreciating every word and note.

Taylor never leaves the stage, even spending the entire interval perched on the edge shaking hands and signing anything and everything that's put his way. At the end he thanks us for allowing him and the band to take another turn through town. And the warmth he shows his audience is sent right back. James, you've indeed got a lot of friends in this part of the world.

With grateful thanks to Debbie Moore of the Bournemouth Echo whose contribution is also included in this review.

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