JAMES TAYLOR AND CAROLE KING LIVE AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL
OH CAROLE, DON’T YOU STEAL
MY HEART AWAY
Carole King and James Taylor
Live at the Hollywood Bowl
May 14, 2010
By Terry Roland – Originally published in FolkWorks(www.folkworks.org)
When you’re Carole King, you don’t have to go far to dip into your own personal American songbook. Just as far as your piano. At the Hollywood Bowl on May 14th, she demonstrated the scope of her songwriting craftsmanship, musicianship and a stage presence to be reckoned with for performers today. Minus any costume changes, visual effects or overwrought stage antics, for Ms. King it was all about the connection to the song, the musicians and the audience. She delivered an electric performance which energized some of the best instrumentalist in record history including Russ Kunkel (drums), Danny(Kootch) Kotchmar (lead guitar) and Leland Sklar (bass). One of the highlights of the evening was her musical and stage rapport with virtuoso lead guitarist, Kootch. As she played her funky-best at the piano, sending waves of chords and piano leads his way, they locked into each other with an exchange that rattled the stage.
So what about James Taylor? Forty years ago, he and Carole King helped to usher in the singer-songwriter era with engagements at Doug Weston’s Troubadour and two major best selling releases, Sweet Baby James and Tapestry. Neither performer ever equaled the pop or artistic success of those early concerts and sessions, but it is a testament to both artists that they have endured and the songs from this era (and Ms. King’s case ten years before) are still well-loved and a concert draw and have forged their way into the American catalogue of standard songs. For this tour and for this night it seemed these gems shined with a new glow making them(especially Ms. King’s) seem as if they had been written yesterday.
While overshadowed by the stage presence of his partner, James Taylor’s voice sounded as good as ever after 40 year s of recording and performing. His stage craft has never been the most engaging, better suited for smaller venues, still the songs, his clean guitar playing and polished vocals carried him through. As usual, “Steamroller,” became his set stealer and the other classics like “Fire & Rain”, “Sweet Baby James” and “Country Roads” all came across with their own vigor.
But, the evening belonged to Carole King. Pulling liberally from the Tapestry album with firey renditions of “Natural Woman,” “It’s Too Late,” and the Bowl-quaking, “I Feel The Earth Move.” She roamed the stage, standing next to Kootch as he played his lead solos, joining the three background singers as Taylor sang “Shower The People,” and pounding out the piano with a focused performance style that could rival any performer of the last 40 years. And, clearly, she was having the time of her life. Like a singing pied piper, she brought the audience along for the ride. Not many can say, ‘here’s one of my first songs,’ and begin singing, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.” By the end of evening with standing ovations and three encores demanded by the capacity audience, the answer was a firm….YES!
Terry Roland is an English teacher, freelance writer, occasional poet, songwriter and folk and country enthusiast. The music has been in his blood since being raised in Texas. He came to California where he was taught to say ‘dude’ at an early age.