Rick Imamoto - Jones Beach, New York
Set against a panoramic backdrop of the deep blue Atlantic Ocean, James Taylor played to a sold out crowd at the Jones Beach Amphitheatre in Long Island, New York. Taylor and his bandmates strolled out onto the stage underneath a gorgeous salmon colored sky in the face of the setting sun and led off their set with the familiar chords from Taylor’s acoutsic guitar as the band went into the opening song "Everyday"to the delight of the enthusiastic crowd. The crowd sat in near reverence, seemingly mesmerized by the amazing clarity of Taylor's comforting voice. At the conclusion of the opening number, Taylor warmly greeted the crowd with his typical down to earth humility and commented on the glorious weather, then proceeded to launch into one of his more recent hits, "The Only One," as couples throughout the crowd nuzzled close to their significant other.
"That's Why I'm Here" was followed by a string of songs from Taylor's soon to be released, not yet titled new album. Soon after the new material, a calypso flavored percussion piece was added to the classic tune, "Mexico," as two of Taylor's background vocalists went into some smooth steppin' salsa dance steps, giving the evening a taste of some south of the border feel. The famiiar strains of Taylor crooning "Country Road" filled the salt flavored air, bringing forth images of nature walks to minds throughout the crowd.
After returning from a short intermission break, Taylor and his band went through one classic after another, from "Shower the People"to "Carolina In My Mind" to "Handy Man,"among others, along with two essential favorites, "Fire and Rain" and the Carole King classic, "You've Got A Friend." Dancing fireflies glowing through the amphitheatre air provided an added ambience to "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight."
A rousing rendition of "How Sweet It Is" brought the crowd to it’s feet, dancing and swaying to the classic song from the sixties originally made famous by Marvin Gaye. "Your Smiling Face"kept the crowd on it’s feet all the way through to the encore, which included "Traffic Jam"and the Eddie Floyd classic, "Knock On Wood."All in all, it was a glorious evening of music from one of the legendary performers from the singer/songwriter era of the seventies. The mellow mannered Taylor still sounds as good as he ever has since he emerged upon the pop music scene in the early seventies, performing his seemingly endless catalogue of classic hits with a fantastic band assembled to support his wonderful vocals.