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James Taylor & Carole King return!

| July 14, 2010 | 1 Comment

United Center, Chicago
Friday, July 9, 2010

Time-tested classic songs performed by musicians entertain. These same songs, sung by the writers send their message. So, when James Taylor and Carole King cha-cha’d by the United Center Friday night — the second local performance in their Troubadour Reunion Tour — one had to figure there were going to be a few stories told.

Taylor and King met in 1970 when both were with other people and going in similar but separate paths. One of Taylor’s first successes came when he recorded King’s “You’ve Got A Friend,” which brought him to the front of a crowded music scene.

While the UC will never be an intimate setting for any event, a circular rotating stage was plucked down at center ice. Ringed with a grouping of tables and benches complete with mood-setting table lamps, it broke the traditional chairs-in-a row set-up. The set was minimalist at best: just King on piano and Taylor with his guitars. They were accompanied by three singers and a small band. Think about a Channel 11 “Soundstage” production in front of 300 but just fill in the rest of the United Center.

Taylor, the awkward, self-deprecating storyteller, directed the night. They toggled between their hits like an old married couple finishing each other’s sentences, but in this case, it was each other’s songs. King was almost giddy with excitement. She came ready to play, strutting out like an excited teen entering her coming-out party. At 68, her raspy but powerful voice sounded very close to the vinyl of her 1971 chart topping album, Tapestry.

They played nearly two-and-a-half hours with plenty of material left in both discographies. In a nod to these times, they let fans pick a song for each performance via the Internet. (Who says you can’t teach a couple of old dogs a new trick or two?)

Make no mistake, this was not going to be a show with a lot of action on stage. There was no back track, synthesizers, or gaudy costumes. The lighting was simple with not a lot of color. Every note was audible, every word recognizable: clear and ungarbled lyrics telling a story, sending a message. Just two iconic, long-ago hippie musicmakers still sounding like they did when they first played in that small West Hollywood club 30 years ago.

One wonders if today’s pop icons will have this kind of staying power and what we’ll think of their music in 30 years.

— Brian Ormiston

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Category: Featured, Live Reviews, Weekly

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  1. Layla Rockenbach says:

    Carole King is really wonderful. She’s still great and sexy.

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