July 5, 2010 | « back

THE DAILY GAZETTE – The Taylor-King phenom at Tanglewood

By Leslie Kandell

Starting where we left off Labor Day, with James Taylor.

Tanglewood can’t be faulted for presenting three non-classical hugely-attended James Taylor/Carole King concerts over the July 4th weekend.

It’s a hard row to hoe selling tickets for even the best classical music; the classical world needs to eat, and Taylor fills the place (reportedly 18,000) time after time. Bambambam.

Taylor and King are touring with their Troubadour Reunion, which was on PBS over and over during pledge week so many people already know what’s on the program.

The concerts were supposedly sold out (until the last few days, when lawn tickets were advertised in the local paper, and Monday’s audience was decidedly less overpowering).

Checking the line of cars turning off Route 7 onto Route 183 Saturday around 4:30, one would guess it would take hours to get in for the 7 o’clock concert.

Never assume: at 6:45 I drove into Lenox, ready to time the traffic action from the thick of it. Not only was there no traffic, there were no cops at intersections, nor even a police podium at the monument on the road to Tanglewood’s main gate. Ghost town! I zoomed down, wandered about the
lawn on a lovely, soft evening.

According to officer William Fuore of the Lenox Police (yes, I rushed to the phone), Tanglewood officials put their heads together with the police and sheriff’s departments of Lenox and Stockbridge, and devised a plan to use more parking areas earlier — not as a last resort.
Sampling the three events revealed that, more than a concert, this is an old-fashioned ritual. It’s the G-rated *** and Jane crowd, having a nice quiet time. The lawn is full, back to the rear hedges.

They’re wearing anything — long dresses, sport slacks, cancer kerchiefs, too-short shorts.
The walk near the Main House is lined with face-painting and tattoo booths. Some folks drift around, others chat or play with their children (the early hour is family-friendly), embrace on blankets or dance quietly. Most eat — maybe under sparkling red, white and blue balloons shaped like hats or fish.

Screens outside the Koussevitzky Shed don’t work till after dark, so most of the lawn crowd sees nothing, but still appears contented. They know exactly where they’re allowed to clap in rhythm, or sing the refrain, which of course they know. Everyone on the premises (and surrounding properties)
 can hear what they can’t see: Amplification was so loud that someone who
 wears a hearing aid replaced it with muffling tissue.

Thinking about strife in this world, and the low annoyance threshhold at classical concerts, it was something, to see a football land in someone’s picnic, and simply get tossed back. No one snapped when I stepped on their blanket. The tranquil atmosphere suggested something more than the
concert, but the atmosphere happened because JT and CK made their particular sound in the gentle twilight.

People who wouldn’t think of going to a class or camp reunion were cooling out on memory lane.
Taylor said in an interview that the concerts on this tour were a spiritual experience. In this place, for this minute, there was peace on earth. As Carly Simon, his ex-wife, might put it, that’s the way I’ve always heard it should be.