October 20, 2022 | « back

MANCHESTEREVENINGNEWS.CO.UK — Review: James Taylor at Manchester Apollo is calm in the chaos

By Helena Vesty

‘I didn’t know if we’d be back in Manchester’ is a familiar refrain from musicians after worldwide tours have been arranged and rearranged over the last couple of years. And for some of our older singers, it’s likely that fear has been realised. They may have emerged from the pandemic having unknowingly played their last international show, with fans now left bereft of the chance to see their favourites live one more time.

But despite kicking off his show with that sentiment, for James Taylor & His All-Star Band any sign of a career in the autumn of its life seemed like a distant trouble. A sold-out audience at Manchester’s Apollo on Monday night and a setlist lasting some three hours and a mammoth 22 songs, each deftly unfurled by the veteran musical icon – there’s no sign Taylor is stopping anytime soon.

The setlist was split in half with an interval. A slower start followed by a pacier second instalment.

There was a real juxtaposition stepping from a chaotic country outside to such a soft, calm show inside the Apollo. Such a gulf, in fact, that it begged the question whether this style of old-worldly Americana really has a place in today’s culture.

Superficially, at least, Taylor’s music often speaks of small, mom-and-pop towns. The quaint nostalgia of Copperline and sun-dappled rendition of Carolina In My Mind were beautiful to hear live. Taylor’s command of his voice and guitar are still as silky and skilful as the 70s, and his all-star band are experienced touring stalwarts.

Authentic experiences, but ones that only exist in the memories of a dwindling few. They they seem miles away from society’s jarring shift into a noisy, confrontational, always-on status that has characterised the last decade.

Yet, to view Taylor’s efforts through such a simplistic lens does him a disservice – he certainly didn’t shirk the tough stuff in this show.