I’ve been waiting for legendary performers Carole King and James Taylor to reunite for another tour, but as both are busy with other projects, I better not hold my breath. While I’ve seen JT at Bethel Woods among other venues, I’d never seen Carole live (except her short-lived performance in the Broadway show Blood Brothers.) When I read that a 2016 concert, recorded in London, had been recorded, and now being shown in select theatres on July 11, I grabbed the opportunity to do the next best thing, see Carole on the big screen with concert sound; she would perform – for the first time – the complete Tapestry album.
Even though I’d be on vacation at the Jersey Shore, I got two tickets for the Tom’s River AMC Loews where it was being shown. It was easy to spot which theatre, just follow the line of baby boomers walking, some with painful knees, to theatre number 5. These fans, like me, were in their teens when the masterpiece was released in 1971. With every one of the twelve songs on the LP a hit, it remained on the Billboard charts for 313 weeks.
Carole was introduced by not one, not two, but a handful of musical, and non-musical icons in videos played on the big screens. Actor Tom Hanks, Elton John, James Taylor, David Crosby, Graham Nash, and Lou Adler, shared how much the album meant to them, how it inspired their music, and that her songs remain on their iPods. WCBS-FM’s Scott Shannon appeared to provide an overview of Carole’s career from her days with songwriting partner, Gerry Goffin, for those in the audience who needed a reminder that her first hit came almost 60 years ago, when she was 17.
And then the stunning views of Hyde Park on a gorgeous evening came into view. Tens of thousands were on hand to sing along to every song, and there were plenty of them in the almost two-hour movie. In addition to Tapestry’s 12 tunes, sung with the original arrangements, Carole charmed the crowd with her medley of hits with Goffin, duet with daughter Louise (“Where You Lead,” now made even more famous as the theme song to cult TV show “Gilmore Girls”) and some rockin’ and rollin’ to the dance favorites “Chains,” and “Loco-motion.” We even got to see the talented Danny “Kootch” Kortchmar, one of the original Tapestry musicians, on stage as well.
Among the reasons why Tapestry was such a game-changer was Carole’s sound, reviewed as “raw” and “imperfect,” thus becoming paired with the Women’s Lib movement. The tune “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” about a one-night stand, was certainly ahead of its time, especially since a woman was asking the question. When it was time for the last song on the album, “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman,” Carole let the younger version of herself do the honors. Carole, white haired, regal-almost, looked winsomely at the young, brown-haired girl on the screen, and added a bit of harmony at times. The Carole of today was visibly moved by that performance, and wiped away tears when the song ended. What could she be thinking?
All of us in the theater sang along and applauded as if we were standing under London’s setting sun. One of the final encores included the West End cast of Beautiful, the hit show which chronicles Carole’s life and success, proving that her popularity has never dimmed. This concert – for both audiences — was a night of remembrance, watching an old friend, who at 74, performed magnificently – no lip synching, no lyrics hidden about the stage for these songs are as much of Carole’s heart and soul, never to be forgotten, as they are for her millions of fans.
The full concert will be released on DVD on September 1, 2017.
Top photo from Bigstock: Walk of Fame Honors Carole King on December 3, 2012 in Hollywood.