James Taylor’s Enchanting Evening in Noblesville: A Review

By on June 13, 2024

On last night’s serene June evening, the legendary James Taylor graced Noblesville, Indiana, with his presence, delivering a performance that was both a nostalgic trip and a showcase of enduring artistry. The Ruoff Music Center, under a canopy of stars, became a congregation of souls united by Taylor’s timeless music.

File Photo: James Taylor performs in Indianapolis, Indiana on July 11, 2024. (Copyright 2024 Larry Philpot,/ Soundstage Photography.com)

James Taylor, whose career spans over six decades, is a paragon of the singer-songwriter genre. Born in 1948, Taylor’s introspective lyrics and soothing melodies have earned him a place in the hearts of millions and a steadfast position in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His breakthrough came with the poignant “Fire and Rain,” and he reached the zenith of his fame with his rendition of Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend.” In his introduction to “You’ve Got a Friend,” Taylor gave full credit to Carole King, claiming that he’d heard the song the morning after it was written, performing it at the Troubadour in LA., and told a story about the owner of the Troubadour, Doug Weston. He said he loved the song, and laughingly said, “but had no idea he’d be singing it every night for the rest of my life.”

File Photo: James Taylor (with son, Henry in background) performs in Indianapolis, Indiana on July 11, 2024. (Copyright 2024 Larry Philpot,/ Soundstage Photography.com)

His film credits, though few, include a notable performance in the cult classic “Two-Lane Blacktop” and contributions to soundtracks such as “Cars” and “A League of Their Own.”

Taylor’s songwriting prowess has seen his compositions covered by a plethora of artists, leaving an indelible mark on the musical landscape. Songs like “Carolina in My Mind” and “Sweet Baby James” have become anthems across generations, covered by artists ranging from country stars to R&B singers.

The 2024 tour band, a collective of virtuosos, brings a wealth of experience and talent to the stage. On vocals, we have the harmonious trio of Kate Markowitz, Dorian Holley, and Andrea Zonn, the latter also enchanting on the fiddle.

Dorian Holley, a vocalist, listed above, is known for his work with Michael Jackson. Holley’s association with Jackson dates back to the King of Pop’s heyday. The keys are masterfully handled by Larry Goldings and Walt Fowler, who doubles on the horns, adding a brassy depth to the ensemble. Michael Landau’s guitar work is a seamless blend of finesse and fire, while Jimmy Johnson anchors the rhythm on bass. Luis Conte’s percussion is a tapestry of global beats, and the legendary Steve Gadd on drums provides the heartbeat of the performance.

The saxophone player of James Taylor’s band is the talented Lou Marini, also known as “Blue Lou” Marini. He is a renowned musician whose career spans several decades, with a rich history of collaborations and performances.

Lou Marini, born on May 13, 1945, in Charleston, South Carolina, has been a prominent figure in the music industry, known for his work in various genres such as blues, R&B, rock, pop, jazz, and soul. Lou was a member of the SNL house Band from 1975-1983, and has played with notable bands and artists, including Blood, Sweat & Tears, The Blues Brothers, Frank Zappa, Aerosmith, Steely Dan, and of course, James Taylor.

Last, but not least, James was joined onstage with his son, Henry Taylor, who sang backup vocals, did a seated duet with his father, showcasing his own talent as a singer and guitarist, during the last song of the night.

The evening’s setlist was a journey through Taylor’s rich discography, with each song carrying the weight of history yet feeling as fresh as the day it was penned. The band’s chemistry was palpable, with each member bringing their unique flavor while remaining in perfect sync with Taylor’s vision.

File Photo: James Taylor performs in Indianapolis, Indiana on July 11, 2024. (Copyright 2024 Larry Philpot,/ Soundstage Photography.com)

As the final notes of “Close Your Eyes” faded into the night, the audience was left with a sense of gratitude for having witnessed a living legend at his finest. James Taylor’s performance in Noblesville was not just a concert; it was a masterclass in musical longevity, a testament to the power of song, and a reminder that some melodies, like fine wine, only get better with time.

  • Setlist:
  • Something in the way she moves (video intro)
  • Buddy Holly’s “Everyday”
  • That’s Why I’m Here
  • October Road
  • Secret of Life
  • Copperline
  • Country Road
  • Sweet Baby James
  • Make it Easy
  • Intermission, while he signed autographs while sitting on the stage
  • Carolina on My Mind
  • Mexico
  • Steamroller
  • Fire and Rain
  • Up on the Roof, by Carole King, written for the Drifters
  • You’ve got a Friend
  • Shower the People
  • How Sweet it Is (To be Loved by You)
  • Encore:
  • Shed
  • Smiling Face
  • Close your Eyes (with son, Henry Taylor)
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