James Taylor at 3Arena, Dublin – Review and Photos
Intimate purple light pours onto the stage as the 3 Arena fills. There’s a truly calm atmosphere – full of ease as well anticipation. The many rows concave downwards towards the stage which is in tremendous view from every angle. This little world is a dream – with not one bad seat in the house. Warm glimmers of blue and red also add to the scene. It’s cosy. It’s relaxing. It’s perfect. Everyone in attendance knows that this night will be special.
In chatting to the father and daughter next to me I barely notice when the glorious man of the night saunters onto the stage – followed by his beloved band (notably containing the infamous and renowned drummer Steve Gadd). The crowd erupts into cheers and roars. With grace he bows. I find this humble entrance significant. James Taylor requires no grand opening. His unpretentious arrival reflects his gentleman personality. The audience beams at him, ecstatic to see the icon, the great, their hero.
‘Something In The Way She Moves’ kicks off the night – the song that he admits to having auditioned to Apple Records with. James places himself at the front of the stage on a stool, acoustic guitar in hand. His voice has gone untouched by the years. Every note and every line is as warm as ever. With angelic backing singers, this optimistic song comes together as one breathtaking performance; intimate and thoughtful, as well as so very beautiful.
“God it’s good to be back in Ireland” he declares.
Taylor’s amiable attitude is apparent. He never hesitates to joke with the vast audience. “I seem to come back to the same themes”, “nature & spirituality – hippie bullshit”. The word ‘genuine’ is an adequate description of this man. He has established a real rapport with his audience and so we feel like we are in the presence of a cherished friend.
During an absorbing performance of ‘Lo and Behold’ (with a wicked electric guitar solo) a profound moment comes. I look around and there is literally not one camera or phone in sight. I am astonished by this. The audience doesn’t feel compelled to capture the occasion. Instead they are entranced, lost in the music. This to me symbolises the talent and excellence of this global legend.
A notable highlight is the spirit-lifting rendition of Buddy Holly’s ‘Everyday’. Taylor grins all the way through, truly enjoying himself. By the end every person is clapping, having caught up with his contagious merriment. This upbeat atmosphere comes about again and again. Fans from every corner dash towards the stage for ‘Mexico’, swinging and clapping. By ‘How Sweet It Is’, a full blown party has broken out. It is a jaw-dropping scene for a seated show. I commend Taylor and his ensemble for their distinct ability to switch from tender to an outrageous groove – without ever losing their engrossing quality.
There is an interval for 20 minutes. Just as this is announced eager fans dash towards the stage to get pictures or an autograph. Taylor gladly kneels down and takes time for everyone. The crowd gathers in a panic, assuming that not everyone will be so lucky. I watch as time passes by. Giddy fans are overwhelmed with glee as they show their friends and partners the pictures. 20 minutes has come and gone when the band return to the stage. Yet James Taylor never once left, still loyally squatting down to satisfy every person. Even when ushered to retreat, he continues to scribble his initials on page after page.
As well as being a superb vocalist, he is an accomplished storyteller. Every song has a tale, a lesson, a meaning. Immersed in darkness, the unimaginable talent that is James Taylor performs ‘Fire & Rain’, lifting every soul present. With lyrics of such great depth, it, alike ‘Millworker’, brandishes the timeless voice – making for an engrossing spectacle.
What makes this concert that bit more special is how Taylor speaks about the tracks and what they mean to him. The raw emotion and truth behind every song is touching. Tear-inducing classics such as ‘Sweet Baby James’ and ‘Carolina On My Mind’ are given worthy introductions, further grasping our hearts. ‘Carolina On My Mind’, inspired by homesickness, conjures up floods of emotion. All the while, the acoustic guitar hanging onto Taylor like another limb belts a million majestic notes. Taylor nods back to his band and there it is – the connection, the togetherness. It’s inspiring. I don’t believe that the concert could reach a greater height than this – but it does. The bar is held high and it never lowers. This could easily be the gig of the year.
The encore ends with ‘You’ve Got A Friend’ and ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’. The most amazing sensation washes over the 3Arena as a thunderous sing-along takes place. Arm in arm we call out “Winter, spring, summer or fall, all you’ve got to do is call on me and I’ll be there yeah.. you’ve got a friend”. Love and comfort dominate the air. With his band members by his side, Taylor draws the night to a close on a note of positivity and hope, and then finally, he bows out. And so, the beauty dies out like the exquisite whine of the violin and I, alike all of the others, leave the venue – totally fulfilled.