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Thursday, 26 June 2014 11:37

Concert review: James Taylor's lyrical frescoes radiate alfresco at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Tuesday, June 24

Concert review: James Taylor's lyrical frescoes radiate alfresco at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Tuesday, June 24
Written by Kyle Kapper

As airborne travelers jetted through the cloudless summer sky, white contrails draped the sunset and slowly faded to pink, as if ripened by the graceful presence of Sweet Baby James.

Sampling the album which earned him that nickname nearly 45 years ago, James Taylor introduced "Lo and Behold" with his trademark self-deprecation. "This stuff just comes out of my mouth, and here's more of it," he said, explaining with a grin how the song is about the "spirituality of nature...or some other hippie bullshit."

Offering perennials aplenty throughout the show -- "Fire and Rain," "You've Got a Friend," and "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)," to name just a few -- the endurance of Taylor's repertoire continues to defy his humility, just as the purity of his voice continues to defy time. And although he can't remember what inspired each and every tune, explaining, "It went by so fast, I didn't have time to take notes," the many stories he did share were often as extraordinary as the songs themselves.

There was the set opener, "Something in the Way She Moves," which inspired George Harrison to pen "Something," and then "Carolina in My Mind," which was written during a bout of homesickness when Taylor shared a studio with The Beatles while they recorded the White Album. Even his less-renowned works came with great anecdotes, like how "Millwork" was a result of Stephen Schwartz, lyricist and composer of "Godspell" and "Wicked," approaching him to contribute a song to the 1970s musical, "Working." "It wasn't," Taylor quipped, citing the show's abbreviated run on the Great White Way.

A gentleman and entertainer even when he's not singing, the soft-spoken songwriter treated fans to autographs at intermission and used song breaks to plug solo efforts released by the members of his All-Star Band. Of particular note amongst the All-Stars was original Blues Brothers band member "Blue Lou" Marini, fresh from a tour with Elwood Blues himself, Dan Aykroyd.

"Up on the Roof," co-written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, was performed in tribute to Goffin's passing last week. Reassuring one zealous fan who requested the cover at the top of the night, Taylor held up an oversized handwritten set list, showing the crowd that "Up on the Roof" was indeed included, but closer to the bottom.

"We just played "Country Road," Taylor laughed, pointing to the classic's place on the list, "so we'll get to that one, but not yet. I'll let you know. Thank you, young person."

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