July 4, 2016 Tanglewood concert review by Dave Read
James Taylor, whose public attachment to such establishment organizations as the Boston Red Sox and Boston Symphony Orchestra make him seem like the Hilary Clinton of singer-songwriters, had a Bernie Sanders moment during his Fourth of July concert at Tanglewood. Over the years, whenever he introduced a new song onto his tried and true setlist, he would mollify his adoring audience by telling them that it sounds just like all the rest. This year he sounded vexed, letting his stage persona go right to the edge: “I know you didn’t come here for no goddam new songs.” Whether he was merely freshening a stale old joke, or is feeling pinched by audience expectations, it still was every bit as good a concert as we’ve attended in the Tanglewood series going back two decades.
The one variation in the series was his 2002 appearance with John Williams and the Boston Pops when, after reciting Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait to open the program, he returned with an ad hoc quartet of guitarist John Pizzarelli, Larry Goldings on keyboards, drummer Gregg Bissonette, and Jimmie Johnson on bass, with the Pops in an accompanying role. It was a very entertaining set and it left us thinking he was looking down the road toward shows with an emphasis on singing within a looser, jazzier setting.
Tanglewood’s popular artist series
Coming four days before the BSO’s opening night, this show was the tenth on an outstanding roster of popular artists that began June 17 with Dolly Parton and included Earth, Wind, and Fire, Brian Wilson, Jackson Browne, the penultimate broadcast ever of A Prairie Home Companion, with Garrison Keillor, and Bob Dylan. This show was similar to the one Bob Dylan put on 2 nights earlier in a few respects: each fronts an awesome band, each covers songs written by others, and each crafts a setlist that leaves his fans gasping for breath!
James Taylor’s July 4, 2016 setlist
Something in the Way She Moves
Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight
Today Today Today
On the 4th of July
Carolina in My Mind
(I’ve Got To) Stop Thinkin’ ‘Bout That
Fire and Rain
Shower the People
The Frozen Man
The Promised Land
You’ve Got a Friend
Angels of Fenway
Up on the Roof
Sweet Baby James
Your Smiling Face
In the Midnight Hour
How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)
You Can Close Your Eyes