Taylor, 66, grew up largely in
Before playing his 1970s hit "You've Got a Friend," Taylor described the night he first heard songwriter
There were many stories like that throughout a languid, pleasurable night. Taylor also enjoys making fun of himself, as he did when describing a series of songs he wrote early in his career as "nature/spirituality hippie bull--."
In fact, Taylor seems to enjoy talking to the audience almost as much as playing, and in concert he frequently turns into a one-man "Behind the Music" special. On Sunday, he described how he played "Something in the Way She Moves" for a small audience including
As engaging as Taylor can be, however, fans ultimately come to hear the music. His concerts are like mellow family reunions. Taylor is the favorite uncle, re-introducing one beloved relative after another.
He played "Carolina In My Mind" not once but twice on Sunday night, at both the end of the first set and again, briefly, as his final encore. Old favorites "
Backed by a 10-man band, Taylor also has embraced the video age. While he never will be a showy performer -- a major costume change for Taylor consists of putting on a cap -- he has added video footage to most of his songs in the second set. The results occasionally overwhelm the live performance but are mostly impressive.
Hundreds of smiling faces of all races light up the screen during "Your Smiling Face." And "Handyman" is a laugh-out-loud highlight. Taylor introduced it as a "lovely song about a gigolo." That was followed by Taylor singing live while a comic-relief video plays of a handsome young man who is dressed as a fireman, painter and welder, and flashes a series of way over-the-top, come-hither looks.
Taylor long ago dispensed with opening acts. He simply walked onstage in jeans and a checked shirt at
One quibble: Why make one of the encores the obscure "Wild Mountain Thyme" when so many other Taylor hits ("Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight," "Secret of Life" and "Only a Dream in Rio," to name three) were not played?
But with a catalog as deep as Taylor's, you can't play everything. And he is ultimately a crowd-pleaser.
At all of his shows, Taylor's band takes a 20-minute intermission. Taylor claims not to know why, he said, "since all we do is go and stand behind that curtain for 20 minutes and look at our watches."
But with no telling how many tours he has left, Taylor has decided to stop looking at his watch.
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