Tapestry: Live in Hyde Park
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
It seems Londoners enjoy their aging New York City singer-songwriters. On the heels of Paul Simon’s The Concert in Hyde Park, released two months previous, fellow New Yorker Carole King’s performance at the same venue, recorded in 2016, gets the lavish CD/DVD treatment. The 90-minute show is billed as a commemoration of the 45th anniversary of King’s landmark Tapestry, her Grammy award winning album that spent a staggering six years on the Billboard charts. It’s also the first time King has played it live, in its entirety and in order, ever at her first UK concert since 1989.
The 74-year-old King looks and sounds great. She’s backed by a tight five-piece (and two backing female soul vocalists), which includes longtime cohort Danny Kortchmar on guitar, a veteran of the original Tapestry studio sessions. Daughter Louise Goffin joins for an energetic duet on “Where You Lead,” a song given a new lease on life as the theme for The Gilmore Girls series, and sticks around to add vocals for “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.” The arrangements stick close to the recorded ones, although an impromptu crowd sing-along during “You’ve Got a Friend” is a huggable moment that seems unscripted. King also steps away from the piano to strap on a guitar and boogie to “Smackwater Jack.” It’s a love-fest with King, all smiles in front of an adoring 65,000 middle (and older) aged fans, almost all of whom mouth the words to every tune.
There is no question that King’s Tapestry collection helped propel the female singer-songwriter genre into the mainstream, even though King and then husband Gerry Goffin had been songwriters for hire working out of New York City throughout the ’60s. The Tapestry tunes still sound fresh, timeless and pertinent with “You’ve Got a Friend” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” now considered evergreen standards. King’s spirited readings of them here belie their — and her — age, along with reaffirming how pop and singer-songwriter music can effortlessly intertwine.
The final third of the gig is turned over to King hits, some written for others such as “Chains” (the Cookies and more notably the Beatles) and most famously “The Locomotion.” The closing reprise of “I Feel the Earth Move” with the West End cast of BEAUTIFUL:The Carole King Musical, brings things to a joyous end.
The multi-camera high definition video is occasionally a bit too hyperactive but not annoyingly so, and the sound is oddly not in 5.1 surround (a surprising misstep for an otherwise professionally recorded show). But this is a lively celebratory concert, enhanced with historic photos flashed on a backing screen, by a legendary artist who takes, and clearly deserves, her victory lap.
The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Carole King worked out of the Brill Building in the 1960s.