GOANDDOMICHIGAN.COM – Concert Reviews: Carole King, James Taylor Bring Troubadour Magic To The Palace
By Gary Graff
AUBURN HILLS — If there was a baby boomer Mount Rushmore, Carole King and James Taylor would certainly be two faces carved into the rock.
Between them, the pair of singer-songwriters have been responsible for a fair share of the lifestyle soundtrack for the ’60s, ’70s and even early ’80s, crafting songs — “You’ve Got a Friend,” “So Far Away,” “Shower the People” and “Fire and Rain” — that have leapt beyond mere radio hits to a more profound stature as campfire favorites, lullabies and even modern hymns. That’s why there was a genuine sense of Event to their Troubadour Reunion Tour stop Thursday night (May 27) at the Palace, where King and Taylor held the boomer-dominated crowd, whose diets now lean more towards Metamucil than Miller, in rapt and reverent attention for two hours and 40 minutes.
It was a rare and special night to be sure, partly due to the repertoire but primarily because King and Taylor did it all together, harmonizing and accompanying each other — with the help of a seven-piece band that included three members of The Section (guitarist Danny Kortchmar, bassist Lee Sklar and drummer Russell Kunkel), who backed each of them on their key, reputation-making albums. That authenticity gave the 28-song show a glow as bright as anything that emanated from the two levels of video screens positioned above the round, rotating stage in the center of the Palace floor, too.
Both performers were in fine voice, with King’s showing a little extra husk that added more soul to her renditions of “So Far Away,” “Smackwater Jack,” “Sweet Seasons,” “It’s Too Late” and a show-stopping version of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” that closed the first half of the concert. Taylor, meanwhile, maintained his role as the clear-voiced innocent on “Blossom,” “Country Road,” “Carolina on My Mind,” “Your Smiling Face” and “Mexico” and even had fun with the otherwise pedestrian blues of “Steamroller.”
The two, although mostly Taylor, offered insightful background and perspective about some of the songs, at one point explaining a pairing of King’s “Beautiful” and his “Shower the People” as “hymns for agnostics.” They also dueted on “Crying in the Rain,” a King co-write that was made famous by the Everly Brothers in 1962, accompanied by just guitar and fiddle, and on “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” which King co-wrote for the Shirelles two years earlier.
They closed the night alone, too, with King’s head resting on Taylor’s shoulder as they sang his “You Can Close Your Eyes.” But anyone still at the Palace was more likely rubbing theirs — in joyful incredulity over what they had just seen.