James Taylor mixes mellow, energetic in show

04/30/2011 12:00 AM

05/01/2011 1:12 PM

Legendary folk singer James Taylor brought his catalog of hits and his dry sense of humor to Wichita on Saturday night for a concert at Intrust Bank Arena.

Taylor, 63, known for hits such as "Fire and Rain" and "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)," drew around 6,000 fans to the arena, where he performed on a stage situated at half-court, making the house feel full and energetic.

Taylor took the stage to a standing ovation from the crowd, made up mostly of his contemporaries and younger.

He opened with a mellow rendition of his hit "Everyday." Wearing a long-sleeved black T-shirt and jeans, Taylor stood and played his guitar, backed up by his Legendary Band, which included six musicians and four background singers.

Taylor then positioned himself on a stool and sang his 1968 hit "Something in the Way She Moves," telling the crowd it was the first song he wrote after Paul McCartney and George Harrison signed him to their label, Apple Records.

"That was my big break," he said.

"We're not worthy," a fan shouted after the song ended, eliciting laughs from the audience.

The mellow concert was quiet enough during song changes that more enthusiastic fans could shout out to Taylor, who often would respond.

"I love you, James," a woman shouted.

"This might sound strange, but I love you too," he deadpanned. "I don't know you, so maybe that helps."

The first set included many of Taylor's famous hits, some of which he would introduce with a personal anecdote.

Before "Carolina On My Mind," Taylor talked about writing the song while on vacation with his friends in the late 1960s. He was on a primitive island in Spain, he said, and he was homesick for the state where he was raised.

Other songs in the first set included "Your Smiling Face," "Shower the People," "Line 'Em Up," "Everyday" and "Up on the Roof," which Taylor said made him think about his time in New York City.

Taylor and his band took a 20-minute intermission, at the end of which he signed autographs from the stage for fans. Wearing a pageboy cap, he launched into the second set full of more stories — and more energy.

Taylor introduced "Jump Up Behind Me" with a story about his father rescuing him from an apartment in New York City after an early band fell apart. "He showed up in a rented station wagon and moved me the hell out of there," Taylor said. "I wrote this song about it."

The set also included a dancing, harmonica-playing Taylor on some faster cover songs, and a mellow, strumming Taylor on hits such as "Copperline," "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" and "Sweet Baby James" which he said he wrote for a nephew named after him.

A highlight of the second set was an energetic version of "Mexico," complete with a festive trumpet solo.

When Taylor sang "Fire and Rain" toward the end of the concert, the crowd sang along.

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