October 6, 2014 | « back

BOURNEMOUTHECHO.CO.UK: James Taylor, BIC: ‘nicest man in music’ delivers belter of a show

By Debbie Moore

IF there was an award for the nicest man in music, the name permanently engraved on the trophy would surely be James Taylor’s.

The genial, gentlemanly singer songwriter has been delighting fans with his melodic, memorable tunes and distinctive guitar picking since before some of his audience were even born, yet the smile never leaves his face as he performs songs he’s done a thousand times before.

This show was perfectly balanced between the adored old hits, covers and great new songs, like Stretch of the Highway. There were gentle moments – his cowboy lullaby Sweet Baby James is always a highlight – and energetic ones, with his electric guitar making its one and only appearance for a bluesy Steamroller.

He creates a cosy intimacy with his audience with chat and stories about every song, but can ramp up the energy in an instant – notably for a fantastic rocked-up Country Road where drummer Steve Gadd, part of the aptly named All Star band, got to show his considerable talent.

James’s songs, he says with that smile, can be easily categorised – highway songs, love songs, hippy tree-hugger songs – but every one of them is a winner evoking memories and emotion in his enchanted audience. Fire and Rain, Carolina in My Mind, You’ve Got a Friend and a soulful, heartfelt Shower the People are all there and rapturously received.

He never leaves the stage, even during the interval, which he spends signing endless autographs until long after the band are back on. He has the air of a man so grateful for his lot in life that he wants to give his audience even more than they already get from his songs. When he finally swaps the pen for his guitar he shakes out his lanky limbs and instantly picks up the groove.

Bournemouth got a belter of a show. The BIC date was near the end of a long UK tour and the hauntingly beautiful voice sounded just a little tired and fragile at times. Ever the gentleman, he thanked us profusely for having him back and wished us safe home. You’re welcome anytime, James – just take good care of that precious voice.