Carole King’s 1971 album Tapestry encapsulated what Joan Didion named “the morning soon after the Sixties”. It is such a behemoth that help artist Don Henley singing “Life in the Fast Lane”, an unexpected Tears For Fears cover, and “Hotel California” was a mere warm-up. “You can verify out any time you like,” Henley sang, like an ominous warning from Brussels, “but you can never leave.”
This British Summer time Time festival appearance was the initial time King had performed the album in concert in its entirety. As an overture, her band vamped via its melodies even though video messages from Tom Hanks, Elton John and two-thirds of Crosby Stills and Nash attested to its value. Then King strolled on, sat at the piano and hammered the opening riff of “I Feel the Earth Move”, and a sun-dappled Hyde Park felt like Laurel Canyon. Barrelhouse chords, Hammond organ skirl, breathy syncopated hesitations in the chorus: King ended the song bouncing up and down on the piano stool, hair flying.
Tapestry is so loaded with memorable songs that it sounds like a greatest hits album. Right away following “I Feel the Earth Move” had been “So Far Away”, which King committed to James Taylor, and then “It’s As well Late”, with Toni Stern’s peerless opening line “Stayed in bed all morning just to pass the time”, King playing sprays of jazzy blue notes with her appropriate hand. There is arguably a slight longueur in the middle of side 1, but a bouncy “Beautiful” contained the DNA of Elton John’s entire profession in a single bar.
By now King’s piano was blazing orange with the reflected light of the sun sinking over Lancaster Gate. “Way Over Yonder” played with gospel tropes, as the organ churned like magma. After the crucial alter in the last verse, the audience involuntarily twitched to turn the record more than — and indeed a giant video screen showed just that taking place. The audience sang along with “You’ve Got a Friend”: the crowd strained for the high note King herself was impeccable.
Subsequent was “Where You Lead”: King had dropped it from reside efficiency on feminist grounds, but now reinstated it in her reworked version for Gilmore Girls, joined by her daughter Louise Goffin, an amiably punchy singer. “Will You Really like Me Tomorrow?” has not aged nicely, but King sang it sweetly. She then revealed a sequinned leading as she strapped on an electric guitar for “Smackwater Jack”, right here a honky-tonk thrash with a 4-guitar frontline led by the veteran Danny Kortchmar. “This,” shouted King with the understandable pride of a lady who made her first recording in 1958, “is what 74 appears like.”
“(You Make Me Really feel Like) A Natural Woman” started with footage of the 1971 King nervously introducing the song and playing the very first verse: the real one joined in on the chorus and then took more than the rest of the song although her younger self blurred, but then the video sang the last line and acknowledged the applause, the older woman momentarily overcome.
Tapestry was, of course, the second act in King’s life, and the concert played out with reminders of the extent of her songbook. There had been Brill Constructing-era songs she co-wrote with her then husband, Gerry Goffin: snatches of “I’m Into One thing Good”, “It Might as Properly Rain Till September”, a hip-grinding “Loco-Motion” and a thunderous “Chains”, channelling the version by The Beatles. On her personal “Jazzman” her glissandi ricocheted off a free of charge-jazz saxophone solo “Up On the Roof” created the most of a summer time evening, and a final reworking of “You’ve Got a Friend” integrated the line “I enjoy you, England”, at a time when England demands all the close friends it can get.
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