Perhaps realising he had truly been blessed with a beautiful summer night free of rain, fires or the intense heat that hovered over the Hunter Valley all weekend, James Taylor stuck to playing his hits and barely provided a taste of his new material at Hope Estate on Sunday night.
Of course, the setlist hasn’t varied much on his current tour of Australia, with Today Today Today the only song offered from his 2015 album, Before This World.
No matter, an appreciative crowd loved every minute, from the opening notes of Wandering, to the closing hymn, Shed A Little Light.
Taylor’s voice is in spectacular form for a performer so far down the track (age 68), but he was certainly spoiled with three supporting vocalists and his highly-touted band of veteran musicians. The wall of sound washed through nearly every song, holding back when a softer mood was needed, as in Sweet Baby James, and then delivering big-time, as in Steamroller Blues.
Yet, I must say, there were times when I wish there was no band at all, just Taylor. His songs are simple, yet powerful, and I was yearning for some space to absorb them, enjoy them floating around my brain. But that wasn’t the case, as the wall of sound poured in frequently, with luscious tones and delicate breaks.
Taylor was extremely relaxed and talkative, almost like a daggy dad at times. But he seemed genuine. The crowd was the same: showing genuine admiration and affection for Taylor, like an old friend they grew up with, which of course, is exactly the case.
Unprompted, the audience chimed in on You’ve Got a Friend (written by Carole King) and Smiling Face like a chorus that was meant to be there.
The two-hour show was simple – no big screen video monitors, no fireworks. But for music fans, there was plenty of James Taylor.