In my mind I’m goin’ to Carolina
Can’t you see the sunshine
Can’t you just feel the moonshine
Maybe just like a friend of mine
It hit me from behind
Yes I’m goin’ to Carolina in my mind
These, of course, are the beginning lyrics to “Carolina on My Mind” by James Taylor. The North Carolina raised singer appropriately opened with this song during his concert in Greensboro on Friday May 18th. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer performed a total of 25 songs and was backed by a 10-piece band and vocal performers.
Originally the legendary singer-songwriter and musician Bonnie Raitt had been slated to open up for Taylor but she could not attend the concert due to a medical condition. Right before intermission Taylor sent Ms. Raitt a video message of the crowd shouting “We love you Bonnie.” It was an extremely touching moment for those of us in the crowd.
Taylor, known for laid-back ballads during his career, played many of those types of songs but he wasn’t limited to just that kind of tune. The first few songs tended to drag a bit as the tempos to those songs were slow, ballad-style.
However, all was not lost as Taylor’s band brightened up the consecutive slow songs with outstanding musicianship during the beginning stage of the concert. I was most impressed by these excellent musicians and back up vocalists. Some of the stand outs from the band include Jimmy Johnson on bass, Lou Marini with saxophone, flute and clarinet, Michito Sanchez on percussion and Steve Gadd on drums. On the vocal side, Arnold McCuller and Kate Markowitz were exceptional, providing wonderful harmonies alongside Taylor.
Being 70 years old, Taylor still has an outstanding voice and can carry his songs just like he did when he was a hit maker on Top 40 radio. He also has a wry sense of humor and was extremely nostalgic in between various songs. I came to appreciate these attributes as the concert proceeded.
The set list included all of the big hits but Taylor also selected some lesser-known favorites that struck a balance with his music selection. He performed “Something in the Way She Moves” which became one the first songs he recorded for Apple Records in 1968 with Paul McCartney and George Harrison. Another song from his debut album, “Carolina on My Mind,” was a crowd favorite as Taylor spent his childhood growing up in North Carolina.
The 70-year old singer kept the hits coming: During the first set, crowd favorites included “Country Road”, “Cooperline”, “Handy Man” and “Mexico.” His Junior Walker and the All Stars cover of “(I’m a) Road Runner” was also a satisfying up-tempo tune in the beginning portion of the show.
The second half brought more crowd favorites such as “Up on the Roof”, “Steamroller”, “Sweet Baby James”, “Showing The People” and “Your Smiling Face.” My favorite performance of the night was Taylor’s signature song, “Fire and Rain.” The song received a standing ovation and was a highlight for me at the concert. He then finished the 2nd set with “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You). That had the crowd clapping hard with enthusiasm.
For the encore, Taylor performed a Wilson Picket cover “In the Midnight Hour” and his first number 1 hit from 1971, his cover of Carole King’s “You’re Got a Friend.” Then Taylor ended his concert the same way he opened up the show: singing “Carolina on My Mind.” It was no mind game: Taylor was actually in North Carolina as he closed out his time with us in Greensboro.
Overall, it was a wonderful experience to have the opportunity to see James Taylor in concert. Taylor‘s tour is continuing through the summer, so if he comes somewhere in your part of the country, I would highly recommend buying tickets to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer in concert.
If you were at the Greensboro concert like me, or any of Taylor’s other May shows, I would love for you to share your thoughts on the concert you attended.
Setlist for Greensboro, NC – May 18, 2018
- Carolina in My Mind
- Country Road
- Jump Up Behind Me
- Never Die Young
- Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight
- (I’m a) Road Runner
- Nothing Like a Hundred Miles
- First Day of May
- Handy Man
- Something in the Way She Moves
- Sunny Skies
- Walking Man
- Up On the Roof
- Steamroller Blues
- Sweet Baby James
- Fire and Rain
- Your Smiling Face
- Shower the People
- How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)
- Shed a Little Light
- In the Midnight Hour
- You’re Got a Friend
- Carolina In My Mind