”An Evening with James Taylor” was all right, but the fans were far more entertaining.
May 28, 2003
Last week, my wife and I went to see the James Taylor concert at the Cajundome, billed as An Evening with James Taylor. As luck would have it, Steve Riley (of The Mamou Playboys fame) ended up sitting next to me. He told me that that afternoon, Dege Legg (of Santeria fame) had run into Taylor’s keyboard player, Larry Goldings, and that they ended up talking about accordions. Legg gave Riley a call and Riley gave Goldings a few pointers on the piano accordion. In exchange, Goldings hooked him up with free tickets to the show.
There didn’t appear to be an empty seat in the Cajundome and, for the most part, An Evening with James Taylor was a lot like a good mix tape of James Taylor. The sound and stage production were great, and there wasn’t much deviation from Taylor’s tried and true soothing, sweet sounds. It was like being in the audience for the taping of a PBS special.
Taylor mixed up his newer numbers with his older hits, including “Fire and Rain,” “Something in the Way She Moves,” “How Sweet It Is (to Be Loved By You),” “Carolina In My Mind,” “Mexico” and closed the show with “Sweet Baby James.” However, he didn’t play “You’ve Got A Friend,” which was fine by me. I know if I get tired of hearing it, that guy must get tired of playing it
The crowd was highly entertaining. As we sat there listening to the music, I found myself dividing the crowd into three distinct categories of concertgoers. They were The Regular Fans, The #1 Fans and The Drunken Dancing Fans.
The Regular Fans made up the majority of the crowd and were mostly older white people. There were a few younger white people, but most of them remembered when Sweet Baby James actually had a baby face. The older men wore khaki pants and floral-print Hawaiian shirts, an ensemble intended to say, “I look strictly business, but I also have a fun-loving, Caribbean side.”
The #1 Fans were there to get things signed. The floodgates were opened after the first song, when a woman walked up to the stage and handed Taylor a rose; then another woman handed him a gift bag of some kind. After every song, The #1 Fans scurried up to the stage to get Taylor to sign some JT memorabilia before he began his next song. One guy who had his JT album signed, waved the record over his head as he walked back to his seat. Toward the end of the show, after each song, whenever The #1 Fans headed for the stage, a chorus of men behind me began yelling, “Sit down!”
The Regular Fans aren’t paying $50 a head to see The #1 Fans’ brush with greatness. They’re paying to see the man strum his guitar. At one point, my wife leaned over and asked me, “Do they think he’s a monkey?” I replied, “Apparently.” But Taylor was still gracious to The #1 Fans.
Then there’s The Drunken Dancing Fans. They have a tendency to clash with the rest of the crowd. The Drunken Dancing Fan can’t eat or sleep two days before the show, and it’s all he talks about. He gets good and juiced up before the show and ties on a few more at the show. The music moves him so much that he takes to dancing in the stands, in a two-square-foot area, with a beer in his hand, spilling it all over the rest of the fans.
And only in Lafayette would there be an incident at a James Taylor concert. A woman a few rows over from where we were sitting was clearly one of The Drunken Dancing Fans. While she was gettin’ jiggy with JT, she spilled her beer on one guy a couple of times. He yelled at her the first time and moved to another seat the second time. Another man finally summoned a Lafayette police officer, who carried her off into the night.
Riley left before the end of the first set. As he was leaving, he said, “This sucks. I missed American Idol for this?”
I could see what he meant, but I still had my fun.