While it pains my soul as a die hard Cardinals fan to say this, I don’t like the team within its confines, but I do love Wrigley Field. On June 30, 2016, I found myself present at this old ballpark that I do love due its longevity and history, but I wasn’t there for a baseball game. This night, I was there for a concert of epic proportion. The weather was absolutely perfect this evening even though a few clouds rolled through that looked dangerous. With a light wind coming off Lake Michigan and stars that were clear up above, it was the perfect setting with a mixed crown of young and old alike.
James Taylor headlined the show which called for a big name opener. That was none other than Jackson Browne. While I have seen Taylor several times, I have always missed Browne’s shows when he has passed through town. When I heard about this show, I vowed not to miss it, so it was up to Chicago we went and attended with friends. Browne walked out casually and the place went bonkers.
Browne opened the show with “Rock Me on the Water,” and it sounded simply beautiful. His voice sounded like it did when he started in the business with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1966 and when he first went solo in 1971. His voice echoed throughout Wrigleyville. Midway through the set, he played “Somebody’s Baby” and it definitely pleased the crowd, especially the women. To the delight of all in attendance, Taylor came out on stage and helped Browne close his set. They sang “Take It Easy” (which Browne and the late Glenn Frey wrote together) and “For a Rocker.” Browne’s set was exactly one hour long, but definitely left you wanting more! He appeared gracious and humbled by the reception he received. He talked about his love of Taylor’s music and how he was ecstatic to be playing for him. I was thrilled I finally made it to a Jackson Browne show, and I will definitely see him the next time he comes through St. Louis!
It took the crew exactly 30 minutes to set the stage for Taylor. I should mention that the city of Chicago has a curfew with concerts at Wrigley now due to the fact a certain Pearl Jam front man refused to stop playing after the band’s show was delayed by rain. From what I have heard, it went until about 1:00 a.m. You give the crowd what they came for and paid for if you ask me.
Taylor came on exactly at 8:30 p.m. Much like Browne, he strolled to the stage, grabbed a stool, and opened the show with the mellow number “Something in the Way She Moves.” Taylor wore his trademark hat and tipped it often to the crowd. He was also very thankful to the crowd and you could tell he was excited to be there. Taylor’s voice was also flawless and as the sun went down, you could not help but take in the nice evening. I caught myself just shutting my eyes and listening to Taylor’s silky, smooth voice.
Taylor paid homage to the rooftop bleachers around Wrigley as well as the highest seats in the stadium by playing “Up On the Roof,” a song written for him by his friend, Carole King. He played another King song back to back with “You’ve Got a Friend.” Taylor played one of my all-time favorite songs during a two-song set about his home state, North Carolina. “Copperline” was the first song (and said favorite) followed by “Carolina in My Mind.” Between songs, Taylor would introduce a member or two at a time in his band. His band was like a who’s who of his or her particular talent. While I cannot mention them all, due to the number in the band, I will mention a couple of noteworthy performers. Lou Marini was on horns. Does his name sound familiar? If you are around my age and loved the Blues Brother, he is that Lou in the Blues Brother’s band as well as the original Saturday Night Live band. Andrea Zonn was on the fiddle along with providing background vocals. She is an artist in her own right and recently put out her own album. All the band members were incredible, really!
Taylor performed many of his biggest hits such as “Fire and Rain,” “Shower the People,” and “Your Smiling Face.” Taylor had me choked up a bit when he sang “Sweet Baby James.” On a personal note, I sang this song a lot to my niece and nephew when they were babies (they are 13 and 6 now). It definitely had me in a great memory mode. A song that surprised many people was a cover of “Knock on Wood.” He had a lot of fun with that number, as did the band.
I did not mention that when Browne’s set was over, I found myself a little sad due to the fact he did not play my very favorite song. The next thing you know, at the end of show, Browne walks on stage and they did another song together, “Doctor My Eyes.” At the end of the song, you could tell Taylor was not ready to leave the stage, and he was frantically talking to the band members including Browne. He then looked to a Wrigley employee at the side of the stage who was on camera for all to see and he asked if they could do one more song. His request was granted, and they all performed the last song of the evening, “You Can Close Your Eyes.” The crowd gave what was many standing ovations and the whole gang on stage bowed together in thanks.
To see what songs were played at the show, you can view Jackson Browne’s set list and James Taylor’s set list. This was a once in a lifetime concert because the two are not touring together this year as Browne joined him specifically for this show at Wrigley Field. You can catch the duo this summer at Fenway Park on Aug. 3, 2016. Again, Browne is a special guest for the ballpark show only. However, this show is sold out and you may have to pay a pretty penny going the alternate route for tickets. I think it would be worth it. Both artists are on tour this summer, so I invite you to look at Jackson Browne’s tour dates and James Taylor’s tour dates. I was thrilled to be a part of the crowd for this show! If you were there, let me hear your thoughts in the comments section. | Tracy Fort
Check out Tracy on her internationally acclaimed radio program, The Tracy Fort Show, online at www.blogtalkradio.com/thetracyfortshow or via internet radio apps. In addition to live streams, you can listen to podcasts of previous shows. Follow The Tracy Fort Show on Twitter at @TracyFortShow.