CLEVELAND.COM – Carole King and James Taylor revisit dawn of singer-songwriter era in concert at The Q
By John Soeder
Consider a yellow-billed oxpecker on the back of a rhino. (Bear with me, please.) The oxpecker gets all the parasites it can eat, and the rhino gets free grooming.
It’s a cozy arrangement, sure. As far as symbiotic relationships go, though, they have nothing on Carole King and James Taylor.
Having played key roles in each other’s careers, especially early on, these quintessential singer-songwriters brought their Troubadour Reunion Tour to Cleveland for a heartwarming double bill Wednesday night at The Q.
It was a throwback to the early 1970s, when King and Taylor first teamed up at the landmark Troubadour club in Los Angeles.
Performing in the round here on a slowly revolving stage, King and Taylor opened with a one-two punch of “Something in the Way She Moves” and “So Far Away.”
Some co-headliners refuse to share a spotlight. Kudos to King and Taylor for accompanying each other throughout the 2½-hour show, with King on piano and Taylor on acoustic guitar.
That said, was it just me, or was it a little unnatural having Taylor sing along on the refrain of King’s “(You Make Me Feel like) a Natural Woman”?
King, 68, and Taylor, 62, embody a turning point in popular music, when Brill Building tunesmiths went from cranking out songs for other artists to performing their own more personal material in the post-Lennon-McCartney era.
King got her start in the Brill Building, and Taylor’s first record deal was with the Beatles’ Apple label.
In concert, King said Taylor’s music inspired her to go the singer-songwriter route, too.
The mutual respect and admiration between them came across loud and clear, and they radiated a genuine warmth.
Multiple standing ovations ensued as King and Taylor delivered spot-on, feel-good renditions of their signature tunes – “It’s Too Late,” “I Feel the Earth Move” and “Jazzman” for her; “Fire and Rain,” “Carolina in My Mind” and “Your Smiling Face” for him.
This trip back in time only underscored the timelessness of these songs.
The most pleasant surprise of the evening came when King and Taylor locked into sublime two-part harmony for a forgotten treasure: “Crying in the Rain,” a King-penned hit for the Everly Brothers.
In another nice touch, the band included the same musicians who backed King and Taylor at the Troubadour: guitarist Danny Kortchmar, bassist Leland Sklar and drummer Russell Kunkel.
Rounding out the supporting cast were multi-instrumentalist Robbie Kondor and backing vocalists Andrea Zonn (who doubled on violin), Kate Markowitz and Cleveland native Arnold McCuller (who brought down the house during “Shower the People”).
And what could beat witnessing King and Taylor in the flesh, trading verses during “You’ve Got a Friend”? (She wrote it; he took it to No. 1.) Next to maybe watching da Vinci paint the Mona Lisa’s smile, not much.
Something in the Way She Moves
So Far Away
Machine Gun Kelly
Carolina in My Mind
Way Over Yonder
Song of Long Ago
Long Ago and Far Away
Shower the People
(You Make Me Feel like) A Natural Woman
Crying in the Rain
Only Love Is Real
Sweet Baby James
Will You Love Me Tomorrow
Your Smiling Face
It’s Too Late
Fire and Rain
I Feel the Earth Move
You’ve Got a Friend
Up on the Roof
How Sweet It Is (To be Loved by You)
You Can Close Your Eyes