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Review: James Taylor familiar, charming for Intrust Bank Arena audience

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, June 20, 2014, at 11:18 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, June 21, 2014, at 12:23 a.m.

Photos

James Taylor set list

June 20, Intrust Bank Arena

First set

“Something in the Way She Moves”

“Today, Today, Today”

“Lo and Behold

“Wichita Lineman”

“Everyday

“Country Road

“Millworker

“Carolina in My Mind

“One More Go Round

“Sweet Baby James

“You’ve Got a Friend

Second set

“Stretch of the Highway”

“You and I”

“Handy Man”

“Hour That the Morning Comes”

“Steamroller Blues”

“Fire and Rain”

“Up on the Roof”

“Mexico”

“Your Smiling Face”

“How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)”

“Shower the People”

“Wild Mountain Thyme”

The show James Taylor brought to Intrust Bank Arena on Friday night was a lot like the one he brought when he last played in Wichita in May of 2011.

He again drew a crowd of 6,000 people, the majority of them age 45 and up. He again traveled through his library of hits, including “Carolina In My Mind,” “Sweet Baby James” and “Your Smiling Face.” He again introduced those songs with stories about how and when he wrote them.

Taylor had the same background singers, the same band, and he again patiently signed autographs from the stage at the beginning and at the end of his 20-minute intermission.

But Taylor, 66, also returned with his signature warm and funny stage presence and his smooth, clear singing voice, and he charmed the audience all over again.

“You’re so sexy!” screamed one fan shortly into the first set.

“Now you’re just kidding with James,” Taylor deadpanned from the stage, looking playfully sheepish before launching into the next song.

“Here’s a tune. Here’s another song,” he said. “Nothing surprising about that, I guess. It’s not going to play itself.”

Taylor, wearing a sport coat, denim shirt and dark jeans, started the two-set show with “Something In the Way She Moves,” which he described as “not the first song I wrote, but it’s the earliest song I’m willing to do in public.”

Shortly into the first set, Taylor strayed from the set list he’s been delivering at other shows, telling the audience he wanted to perform a song he once recorded for an album of covers.

“I’ve been waiting to get to Wichita to play it,” he said. “You probably hear it all the time. This is our version of ‘Wichita Lineman.’” Taylor’s version may have been the best one performed in Wichita since its originator, Glen Campbell, performed it at the Orpheum during his 2012 farewell tour.

Taylor’s fans stayed mostly seated during the show, occasionally clapping along to his more upbeat songs or offering standing ovations for his more well-known ones.

A few rowdy fans shouted praise to Taylor as he tried to introduce a song. He paused and looked their way.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you,” he said with a playful sarcasm.

Just before intermission, Taylor performed one of his most recognizable hits, 1970’s “Sweet Baby James,” which he told the crowd he wrote for his newborn nephew who was named after him. He followed that with his version of Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend,” during which his teenage son Henry joined his background singers.

The second set included a high energy version of “Steamroller Blues,” during which Taylor traded blues licks with his guitar player.

It also included an upbeat “Mexico,” complete with trumpets and bongos, and the iconic hit “Fire and Rain,” which earned Taylor another standing ovation.

Reach Denise Neil at 316-268-6327 or dneil@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @deniseneil.

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