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James Taylor is Your Coolest Grandpa

For the time Toronto had him, James Taylor played grandpa for everyone at the show.

On Thursday night at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, James Taylor kept most of Toronto’s grandparents up past their bedtime with a show that nearly pushed three hours, which is incredibly impressive considering he’s 66 years old. When was the last time you did anything for almost three hours? And no, falling into a K-hole of vine compilations doesn’t count. To stay comfortable, James went back and forth between sitting and standing, looking a bit hobbled at times, but still jumping around when he could. His voice is still as silky smooth as ever, and the songs were so goddamned pleasant that it was easy to understand why so many people were choosing coffee over delicious beer – it was late and most of the tunes would probably make you sleepy. But there’s a reason Taylor is still performing for massive crowds the world over: he manages to turn the entire Amphitheatre into a cozy den, featuring a friendly old guy with a guitar telling stories about hanging out with Paul McCartney and George Harrison in a hotel room. For the time Toronto had him, James Taylor played grandpa for everyone at the show. He made grandpa jokes, played grandpa songs, and told grandpa stories. He was your grandpa, and my grandpa, and, like most grandpas, charmed an entire room of people with zany anecdotes and effortless charm and sincerity.


He ended his first set with the only James Taylor song I know (which is actually a Carole King song), “You’ve Got a Friend,” and took a 20-minute break, promising a set of all hits for the second round. That set included a very exciting wardrobe change (he took the stage wearing a newsboy cap instead of now signature bald head), and unveiled a brand new song for the first time live, namedropping The 6 on the super-groovy premiere: “It was no time to be lost in downtown Toronto.” After a spirited and kinda badass run-through of “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” and what seemed like the seventh standing ovation (seriously, everyone just kept standing for everything), Taylor finally capped the show with “Wild Mountain Thyme,” a traditional that is only maybe half as old as most of the audience was. But the guy who “You’re So Vain” is “definitely not about," proved that age ain’t nothing but a number with a timeless set of smooth crooners.

Matt Williams would appreciate Carly Simon’s digits if James Taylor reads this. He’s on Twitter - @MattGeeWilliams