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James Taylor makes arena show feel like an intimate get-together
“Thank you for letting us play in the Your Name Here Arena,” James Taylor joked near the end of his concert Monday night at Scottrade … er, Enterprise Center.
He may have been more on point with the comment than even he knew. The name change had been announced earlier in the day, and some of the arena’s signage as well as its website and social media accounts had already been switched over. But the deal with Enterprise doesn’t formally go into effect until July 1.
But what counted on Monday was what happened inside the building, and that’s where the veteran singer-songwriter — a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame as well as a Kennedy Center honoree and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom — performed a concert that was warm, deeply nostalgic and surprisingly intimate for an arena show.
Taylor brought the place down to size by employing a 10-piece band that included such notables as drummer Steve Gadd, saxophonist Lou Marini, and longtime backup vocalists Kate Markowitz and Arnold McCuller. His stage set, featuring movable, various-size video screens displaying lyrics, old photos and evocative scenes, helped, too.
And then there was the music itself, which most in attendance likely knew by heart.
It’s been 50 years since Taylor auditioned for Paul McCartney and George Harrison and released his debut album on the Beatles’ Apple Records. He began the show with a song from that record, “Carolina in My Mind.”
“Country Road” indicated early on that Taylor would be generous in sharing the spotlight with his musicians and effusive in his praise of them. The song’s opening showcased violinist Andrea Zonn, while a late drum break allowed Gadd to shine. The arrangements of subsequent songs gave the other musicians a chance to put their own stamp on the proceedings; Marini on the lovely, torchy “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight,” keyboardist Kevin Hays on “Jump Up Behind Me,” McCullers on “Shower the People” and so on.
READ MORE: james taylor tour new york
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