Last updated on December 8th, 2021 at 10:27 am
The last few years have been quite a learning experience for us all, but one thing that I think many music fans, in particular, might have learned is that you should never pass up an opportunity to see a legend.
Simply put, nobody on this planet has any idea how much longer they’ve got here, so when one of the greats comes to town, it might be worth buying that ticket.
Although I would never refer to myself as a huge James Taylor fan, probably due to the fact that even some of his newer hits came out twenty years before I was born, his impact on the music industry and in the world of songwriting is undeniable.
He’s in practically every “Hall Of Fame” you can think of, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a single recording artist over the last handful of decades that hasn’t taken direct inspiration from his performances over the years.
He’s a living legend and lucky for us he was in St. Paul on Monday night with another guy that receives a ton of praise of his own and sits beside him in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well, Jackson Browne, performing at the Xcel Energy Center.
James Taylor on stage with Jackson Browne equals perfection @XcelEnergyCtr pic.twitter.com/zDLJj6NLnY
— jennifer dix (@JenEnglebretson) November 30, 2021
After arriving a few minutes late due to a parking snafu (I simply refuse to pay $25 to park my car somewhere for 3 hours) I settled into my seat just about a quarter of the way through Jackson Browne’s set.
What struck me almost instantly was how calm the crowd was. With it being a Monday night concert featuring two artists well into their 70s, I obviously wasn’t expecting a very raucous evening, but it was by far the quietest crowd I’ve ever witnessed in a venue the size of the Xcel Energy Center, and while it was incredibly respectful for the performers… It was also kind of spooky at times?
It didn’t take long for Browne to clue in on that fact, either, remarking about halfway through his set during a particularly still moment between songs that “…my fans are pretty quiet, and James’s fans are VERY quiet, so moments like this have the tendency to happen!” which of course immediately eased everyone up and prompted some scattered cheers.
Nothing cooler than having @JamesTaylor_com sitting with @JacksonBrowne at the @XcelEnergyCtr ! pic.twitter.com/qoepFUCO3Q
— Jessie "Sugar Bear" Keller (@gratefuldude85) November 30, 2021
After cruising through most of his roughly hour-long set, he welcomed James Taylor onto the stage for them to perform the songs “The Pretender” as well as “Running On Empty” together to much delight of the crowd. A few people even got so excited that they… stood up out of their seats!
It was a wonderful way to start the night and the perfect appetizer to get us all buttered up and ready for James Taylor to knock us out.
Father/daughter concert week kicks off with dad’s all time fave @JacksonBrowne w/@JamesTaylor_com 🤍🤍 Watch out @dawestheband here we come! @FirstAvenue #MN pic.twitter.com/NU4EF93vMV
— Stacey (@Stacey_StPaul) November 30, 2021
After a thirty-minute intermission, the lights went dim and a roughly five-minute-long video played on the big screens featuring dozens of recordings of people praising Taylor’s impact, highlighting his accomplishments, and singing different renditions of his most famous hits before Taylor himself appeared behind a large white canvas and jumped into “Country Road.”
Throughout his two-hour performance, something that caught me totally off guard was how funny Taylor is.
You’d certainly expect someone who has been performing in front of crowds for the better part of six decades to have some high-quality stage banter, but during the show, I wondered if he was planning on stopping over at ACME Comedy Company in Minneapolis to try out a fresh five-minutes after he wrapped up in St. Paul. He had the crowd absolutely eating out of his hand.
Of course, the biggest reactions of the night were prompted by performances of his plethora of hits including “Mexico,” “Fire and Rain,” “Carolina in My Mind,” and “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” which wrapped up his initial set before (obviously) being called back on stage for an encore.
The encore featured even more heavy hitters, and Taylor took his turn of welcoming out Jackson Browne to join him for beautiful renditions of The Eagles’ “Take It Easy” (which Browne co-wrote with Glenn Frey) and Carole King’s “You’ve Got A Friend” before wrapping up the show with “You Can Close Your Eyes” featuring Taylor’s son, Henry, who had been part of the group of backing vocalists all night.
All in all, it was a delightful and incredibly pleasant evening with a couple of living legends. Any chance you have to catch either of these performers should not be squandered.