Review: James Taylor Live Under The Stars At Botanic Park

Kasey Chambers and Bernard Fanning supported legendary James Taylor in this spectacular 40 degree concert in the sun.


Four years ago, James Taylor was performing at President Obama’s 2nd Inauguration Ceremony. Now, fast forward to 2017 and was performing for thousands of fans in Adelaide’s beautiful parkland setting of Botanic Park.

Adelaide certainly decided to turn on the heat for this one – Aussie support acts Kasey Chambers and Bernard Fanning got the brunt of the full frontal sun onstage in Botanic Park, allowing a tiny window of opportunity to keep the main act as cool for as long as possible.

The crowds were united in their combined sweat fest but ample bar facilities helped. Misters over the garden would have been a welcome idea, yet who knew of the sudden oven-like conditions? Like the musicians onstage, everyone just got on with the show.

Kasey Chambers sang to a smaller crowd than she deserved, certainly due to the heat. A reliable favourite, she sang for just over half an hour as the punters straggled in late to the garden. Fanning, following, seemed less exuberant than normal yet wowed the crowd, some of whom certainly came along for him alone. By the time JT came onstage, the crowd were already cooling down and the lawns were packed. We loved him all the more for his acknowledgement of his locally bought shoes, from another time, who had made their ‘way home’ for the gig.

Taylor’s voice doesn’t alter with age; if anything it is like a reliable sherry – hard to imagine it changing and his demeanour only relaxing with time. His humble introductions to his brilliant 6 piece band with horn, sensational fiddler Andrea Zahn, Men at Work’s ex drummer Chad Wackerman, and his stunning keyboard, lead guitar, bass and sax players. “It’s all about the band”, he states as he introduces them with grace and thanks, after opening solo with beautiful ballard ‘Wandering’.

Taylor fans would not have been disappointed with favourtites such as ‘Sailing to Philadelphia’, ‘Rocket Man’, ‘Gone to Carolina’, ‘Got to Stop Thinking About That’ amongst newer songs such as ‘Today, Today, Today’.

JT entertained the crowd with banter, whilst the stage crew performed some of the slickest instrument changeovers around, and had the crowd laughing, with the story of the break he had in 1968 with Apple Music – the label The Beatles first signed with. Hearing his tale of recording whilst The Beatles were in the next room recording The White Album reinforced his celebrity status in his own right and the longevity of his sparkling career.

Hearing James Taylor wouldn’t have been complete without mention of longtime friend Carole King and the recognised ‘anthem to friendship everywhere’ – ‘You’ve Got a Friend’. An energetic version of ‘Mexico’ rounded off the evening with the singalong song ‘How Sweet it Is’.

The performers didn’t disappoint – playing in the glare of the full sun was one of the more challenging tests I’ve seen for an outdoor concert. Overall, an amazing and relaxing evening with brilliant sound – a testament to local and travelling crew.

We hope to see you soon, James – don’t be stranger now, ya’ll hear?

Review: Sian Williams

Photos: Melissa Donato

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