Where are the great singer-songwriters of the ’90s– and when will they get here? Fortunately, until they arrive, ’70s singer-songwriter greats like James Taylor are out there touring and recording, demonstrating what it takes to set standards that last lifetimes.
Taylor’s unmistakable vocals were in fine form during the first of a five-night stand at the Universal Amphitheater last Tuesday. His material, sound and lighting all scored perfect 10s with the celebrity- and industry-honcho-dotted audience.
A creme-de-la-creme backing contingent of five musicians and four singers–many of them successful recording artists in their own right–helped Taylor serve up timeless versions of his classics, as well as songs from his recent Columbia Records release, “New Moon Shine.”
Unlike many artists with large repertoires, Taylor never resorted to medleys, instead paying proper homage to his catalog with full versions.
Many of the tunes were given new life, complemented by the exquisite blending of the backing singers’ tight four-part harmonies that fit with Taylor’s voice like fingers in a new leather glove. The performance of songs like “Fire and Rain,””You’ve Got a Friend,” and “Carolina in My Mind” easily rivaled the original recordings.
The perfect mix of old and new, interspersed with Taylor’s witty, funny in-between song remarks, held the crowd to the last note of the four-encore, two-hour-plus set.