Although Carole King’s greatest hits performance Sunday at the Universal Ampitheater was safe and predictable, and at times a little self-indulgent, the venerable artist nonetheless succeeded in warming the heartfires of those in the house from the big chill era.
The bulk of King’s two-hour set involved ’60s and ’70s tunes made famous by the singer, actor wannabe and part-time environmental activist. In her role as the latter, King couldn’t pass up an opportunity to rally the house on anti-logging industry legislation in which she has become involved, a plea that was jeered by several in attendance.
King still has the vocal chops — although such an observation may irk the 51 -year-old singer who has said publicly that artists her age don’t have to prove “they’ve still got it”– but the Liza Minnelli-like hand gestures may indicate King is more interested in acting than singing. (King puts in an appearance in James Brooks’ film “I’ll Do Anything,” set for a fall release from Columbia Pictures).
All of the golden oldies were trotted out, from “Up on the Roof” to her signature “You’ve Got a Friend,” in which she was backed by surpise guests David Crosby and Graham Nash, much to the delight of the venue’s baby boomer-heavy contingent.
King also showcased tunes from her December release “Colour of Your Dreams,” which was pressed on King’s own vanity label and distributed through Priority, best known as home to rap powerhouses Ice Cube and Dr. Dre.
Opener Vinnie James, in contrast to King’s big show, proved less is more with fiery, solo electrified acoustic versions of tracks from unreleased efforts and his debut, one-off RCA disc, “All American Boy.”