Review: A Day On The Green James Taylor & His All Star Band:

Sunday April 28 @ Centennial Vineyards

Reviewed by Amber, Rory and Sam.

Tim Bradshaw Photography

A beautiful Autumn afternoon and evening awaited those who’d made their way to Bowral for an emotional farewell concert for this criminally underrated troubadour. To begin, James brought along 2 trio support acts the first of which was Ella Hooper. She normally doesn’t do Killing Heidi songs when performing solo but the audience were treated to a really good acoustic version of Weir with fiddle and an alt-country twang. A quick break and we took the chance to get some merch, meet Ella and grab a drink while Josh Pyke was playing. Both support acts really complimented the lead up to James. Josh has his own rootsy sound with a cello plus keys and squeeze box accordion accompanying players.

James Taylor started on the dot of 5:45pm, in fact he was a minute late to help build the anticipation. He was disarmingly funny, really authentic and so genuine. A sweet old grandpa who was so happy to be there that you could give a hug to.  At intervals James would lovingly introduce his handpicked band, hugging every member, who’d all come over from the States. He cherry picked the best people he could find to play and tour with for the last time. This amazing All-Star band, featuring James who makes playing 6 strings appear so effortless, also included jazz legend Steve Gadd on drums, Andrea Zonn on fiddle, Dean Parks on Acoustic and Steel Guitar to name a few. Plus Dorian Holley, as one of the 3 backing vocalists, that has also played with Michael Jackson and Rod Stewart over the years.

An overwhelming sense of emotion was sweeping the audience, who all felt so lucky to be there, as part of his last ever show in Australia. Right here in Bowral. Not Sydney or Melbourne. Bowral! Highlight songs included Copperline, Carolina On My Mind, Fire and Rain (naturally), Handyman (a song he’s been playing in his sets for years), Up On The Roof (which Carole King wrote for James), Shower The People, Country Road, Mexico, How Sweet It Is (how many other singers can match Marvin Gaye?!) and of course You Got a Friend. Sitting next to a dear friend and sharing that song, was indeed a special moment to treasure and remember, once the swelling on my tightly squeezed hand went down.

Stories shared to the crowd were welcomed with silence as they waited on every word. At one point he took off his jacket, which led to some woohoos from the crowd. “It’s exciting isn’t it,” James acknowledged. “The next thing I might take off is my teeth!” With a career spanning that many decades, James has such special insights into his songs. Something In The Way He Moves, which George Harrison loved so much and ended up using as the inspiration for his Beatles Song, Something. His early interaction auditioning with the Fab Four was a sliding door moment for his career, ‘something’ we were all extremely grateful for tonight.

For his encore, the final song, ever performed by James Taylor in Australia, was You Can Close Your Eyes. While his parting words, the last address he would ever give to an Australian audience, were filled with admiration and awe for the special place our land and people hold in his American eyes; “…don’t fuck it up.” There’s still so much more we could listen to and learn about from this once in a generation troubadour.