James Taylor @ Enterprise Center, St. Louis, MO

Words and photos by Duane Clawson
Yet again, while covering a show for MTC MAG, I need to pinch myself and say, “am I really doing this?” Am I actually photographing James Taylor, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Kennedy Center honoree, and recent of a Presidential Medal of Freedom? Yes, in fact I was doing this and loving every second of it! Earlier in the day, what was formerly known as Scottrade Center, changed to Enterprise Center, with Taylor as its inaugural performer. This show was warm, nostalgic, and surprisingly intimate for an arena show.

A world class ten-piece band supported Taylor throughout this evening of memories. A few of the notable musicians employed by JT include Blues Brothers alumni, Lou Marini on a variety horns, Andrea Zonn on vocals and violin, and Luis Conte on percussion. You may not know these names but in the music world these names are all held in the highest regards.

Taylor was greeted onstage by a bouquet of flowers from a fan in the front row. Wasting little time, diving in to the classics he began the show with the 50-year-old classic, “Carolina In My Mind”.  Fun fact about this song, George Harrison and Paul McCartney sang background vocals on the original, 1968 recording. A couple of noteworthy things that remain constant throughout this two-set concert: first, Taylor’s 70-year-old voice is amazingly strong. And second, his respect for his fellow musicians was not unnoticed. Stepping off to the side and facing bandmates while solos were performed spoke volumes about JT’s respect for each of these entertainer’s talents.

The classic loving audience rose to it’s feet as Taylor closes out his first set with his hit, “Mexico”. Before he leaves the stage for a 20-minute intermission, Taylor promises a second set jam packed with hits.

On his way to the stage, before beginning his second set, Taylor takes time to sign autographs and pose for a few pics. At this point I need to rant for just a bit. The male concert goer behind said, “Come on James get back on stage, I need to be at work by 4:30 in the morning.” Are you serious, man? James Taylor, a living legend, signing autographs and posing for pics with fans during a show, this is unheard of, even with far lesser names than JT! If you’re going to a concert, prepare ahead of time, be an adult, and for God sakes, respect that a national treasure has even considered get this close to his fans! Rant over!

As promised, the second set was nothing short of the hits Taylor had promised. “Sweet Baby James’, “Your Smiling Face”, and “How Sweet it Is” were scattered amongst the second half hits. A nod to Taylor’s long-time friend and collaborator, Carole King, came by way of her 1962 hit, written for The Drifters, “Up on a Roof”. As with most great songwriters there’s a story behind the songs, JT does his best to explain how many of his songs came to be. “Sweet Baby James” was lullaby, written for his newborn nephew in 1970, and still bringing standing ovations 48 years later! With no introduction needed, Taylor moves on to his biggest hit, “Fire and Rain”, and a collective lump was felt in the throats of all in attendance.

An encore led off by the gospel feels of “Shed a Little Light” kept the crowd on their feet right on through a cover of Wilson Pickett’s, “Midnight Hour”.  As Taylor and the band took what appeared to be a final bow, he quickly trotted to the back of the stage, grabbed his acoustic guitar, and finished the night with, “You’ve Got a Friend”.  Before ‘You’ve Got a Friend” Taylor said, “thank you for allowing us to play your name here arena”. I gotta tell ya James, it’s the names on the inside that count! Thanks to JT’s management for allowing MTC MAG to cover this great show. Also thanks to Enterprise Center and Live Nation for rolling out the red carpet!

Photos of the show are below:

Contributed by Duane Clawson
James Taylor @ Enterprise Center, St. Louis, MO James Taylor @ Enterprise Center, St. Louis, MO Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on June 01, 2018 Rating: 5
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