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Concert review: Taylor thrills crowd with songs and humor

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 5 2008 12:12 a.m. MDT

JAMES TAYLOR AND HIS BAND OF LEGENDS, USANA Amphitheatre, Monday

WEST VALLEY CITY — There was more than music at the James Taylor concert Monday night at the USANA Amphitheatre. Oh, sure the legendary singer/songwriter's voice was in top shape and his Band of Legends performed with finesse. But there was more.

Taylor let his comedic side shine throughout the night.

With his trademark shy demeanor, Taylor joked about his version of Carole King's "You've Got a Friend," saying he was glad it wasn't a novelty hit like Bobby "Boris" Pickett's "Monster Mash."

Then during "Steamroller Blues" Taylor did the screaming-guitar rock hero and kicked over his stool.

After the song ended, he realized he actually broke the top off and shyly shrugged and said, "What a shameless display."

Of course, the audience adored the display. In fact, the audience loved every word, note and action of the night.

Dipping into his bag of goodies, Taylor brought out some old gems from his career. He also offered a few new "oldies," which will appear on his new album "Covers," which will be released in September.

The gems included the aforementioned "You've Got a Friend," "Mexico," "Fire and Rain" and the lullaby he wrote for his nephew, "Sweet Baby James."

Among the new works was his remake of Glen Campbell's "Wichita Lineman," Big Mama Thornton's version of "Hound Dog," Junior Walker's "(I'm a) Road Runner," during which Taylor huffed away on the mouth harp, and George Jones' "Why Baby Why."

Taylor's Band of Legends, which featured drummer Steve Gadd, percussionist Luis Conte, pianist Larry Golding, violinist Andrea Zonn, bassist Jimmy Johnson, guitarist Mike Landau, saxophonist "Blue" Lou Marini, trumpeter (and Utah-born) Walt Fowler and vocalists Kate Markowitz, Arnold McCuller and David Lasley, all who are noted musicians in their own right, were spotlighted throughout the evening thanks to two large video screens that hung on each side of the stage.

The gospelesque "Shed a Little Light," the laid-back "Up on the Roof" and the groove of Buddy Holly's "Everyday" were also part of the set. The audience also loved "Your Smiling Face," "Carolina in My Mind" and the new rendition of the Silhouettes' "Get a Job."

One of the biggest surprises came when Taylor and the band performed a jazz-waltz version of Rogers & Hammerstein's "O What a Beautiful Mornin'," from the musical "Oklahoma!"

"This is what Broadway thought was country music, if Broadway had any inkling of what country music was suppose to sound like," joked Taylor before the song.

For nearly 40 years, James Taylor has been singing, recording and entertaining audiences around the world. And he showed no signs of stopping anytime soon.


E-MAIL: scott@desnews.com

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