James Taylor & Carole King / Nov. 29, 2007 / Los Angeles (Troubadour)
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the legendary Los Angeles club the Troubadour in West Hollywood, James Taylor and Carole King played to sell-out audiences this past week for two shows nightly overAs the two older gentleman at the end of "The Incredibles" said, "That's the way to do it, that's old school. There's no school like old school."
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the legendary Los Angeles club the Troubadour in West Hollywood, James Taylor and Carole King played to sell-out audiences this past week for two shows nightly over three days in a row. And from the looks of it, the intimate dates were as much as treat for the artists as it was for fans.
Thursday night's early show performance was skillful, unforced and unfettered. It was also proof you can indeed go home again. At least if you're Taylor and King, returning to the club that helped launch their respective careers nearly four decades ago, when former Brill Building songwriter King was the piano player for Taylor as he first introduced her as a new solo artist.
Taylor even joked about having played the club a number of times in the early '70s, "evidently," bringing to mind the old joke about if you remember the '60s -- or the '70s, it seems -- you weren't there.
The 90-minute set drew greatly from those early years, with Taylor playing songs from 1970's "Sweet Baby James," including the blissful lullaby title track and King drawing from 1971's landmark "Tapestry." Those classic songs endure on Taylor's new concert CD and DVD, "One Man Band" and King's recent DVD concert release "Welcome to My Living Room."
The atmosphere was certainly nostalgic, with many in the mostly older crowd taken back to their college or teen years, mouthing the words and then, singing along to almost every song. Even the band was the same from those Troub days gone by: longtime Taylor crony Danny Kortchmar aka Kooch, embellishing electric guitar, bassist Lee Sklar and drummer Russ Kunkel (so distinctive, King said, his sound is "ka-kunk-el").
King's voice may be a bit weathered, but it's still warm and welcoming, while Taylor's gentle tone has remained consistent over the years, even as he nears 60. The pair traded off the spotlight and also joined each other in harmony on several numbers.
Taylor's "Country Road" summoned the restlessness of youth and "Fire and Rain" was filled with heartache and loss. King's offerings included the bittersweet regret of "It's Too Late" and a lovely and aching "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow." She also convinced the crowd to join in for "You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman)"
As Taylor traded his usual acoustic guitar for an electric, he kicked into a slinky yet also comical and self-effacing "Steamroller Blues," which was followed by another King classic still played on California radio after every earthquake, "I Feel the Earth Move."
The set closed out with a shared "You've Got a Friend," the song penned by King that was first a hit for Taylor but truly belongs to both of them. They returned for an encore of "Up On the Roof," splitting the difference between King's wistful treatment of the hit she'd co-written for the Drifters and Taylor's breezy '70s pop take on the tune.
The entire Troubadour run was filmed and recorded, perhaps for a future CD/DVD that will surely be a fine memory for those who were there and a special gift for those who weren't.