December 8, 2014 | « back

THESUNCHRONICLE.COM — Review: James Taylor puts on a sweet show at Mohegan

By Stephen Peterson

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – James Taylor continues to be the singer-songwriter voice for a generation that is steadily aging.

Taylor, 66, and his experienced, all-star band put on a nearly three-hour show Thursday night at Mohegan Sun Arena.

The Boston native and five-time Grammy winner took a touring hiatus last year to begin making a new album, his first of new material since 2002, and played some new songs from it.

Performing nearly 30 numbers over two sets and an encore, there were plenty of hidden gems tossed into the song list along with Taylor’s popular soft rock/folk numbers.

Despite the venue’s size, the personable musician connected with the audience in a way to make it a most intimate concert, telling stories about many songs and cracking jokes.

Starting off with “Something in the Way She Moves” that is on his 1968 debut album he recorded in The Beatles Apple Records studio, Taylor told of his days with the legendary band, an experience he said he still feels fortunate to have had.

The new “Today, Today, Today” featured a fiddle player who was one of three backup singers.

The vintage “Lo and Behold,” “Mona” (which is about a pig and which Taylor said he hadn’t played in a long time), and the melodic “Copperline” merged into an energetic version of Buddy Holly’s “Everyday.”

Before the beautiful “Carolina In My Mind,” he told of writing the song when he was homesick in London.

A groovy “One More Go Round” showed the band at its funkiest, a dramatic contrast to his country lullaby hit “Sweet Baby James,” which he wrote for his nephew.

The sweet “Shower the People” from 1976 finished off the first set.

Returning after an interval, Taylor sang “You and I Again,” with the legendary “Blue” Lou Marini on flute. He also played sax and pennywhistle.

“Steamroller Blues” saw Taylor ditch his acoustic to play electric guitar and harmonica.

Taylor encouraged the crowd to get up and dance to “Mexico” and “Your Smiling Face” from 1977, which is strong on sax.

The encore kicked off with “Shed A Little Light” about Martin Luther King, in obvious reference to the ongoing racial issues in the country.

All the singers lined up along the front of the stage for Taylor’s Top 5 cover of Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” from 1975.

Taylor wrapped up with the old folk tune “Wild Mountain Thyme.”

The band featured well-known musicians guitarist Michael Landau, drummer Steve Gadd, band leader/bassist Jimmy Johnson, and Cuban percussionist Luis Conte, and was rounded out with another drummer and two keyboardists – one who also played the trumpet.