Many of you may not be old enough to remember a time when Carole King was one of the driving forces in the music industry. Over the last four decades, King has been awarded four Grammy awards, had the longest album for a female on the charts, and created one of the most beloved music albums of all time, Tapestry, which also holds the record for longest time for an album to hold the #1 position by a female artist. When it was announced that King was in town for the film festival release of Troubadors (which focused prominently around her and James Taylor), many fans and music enthusiasts were hoping that she would perform. A small group of fans and cast from the film got their wish.
Carole King played a short but fantastic set to a very excited crowd on Sunday night at the House of Hype (Cisero’s restaurant on Main St.) The venue was incredibly small, and King used the intimacy of the environment to make the crowd feel as if the performance was coming from inside her living room, as in typical Carole King fashion.
King followed suit with the focus of the film, concentrating her set of eight songs on the era that the film spotlighted and focusing almost entirely on the Tapestry album. She was accompanied by her longtime bassist and guitarist, which helped provide ample backing to her precise piano work and timeless voice.
The set started off with the heart-felt classic “So Far Away,” and was followed by the only song not performed from the Tapestry album, “Up On the Roof.” After a riveting version of “Smackwater Jack,” King led the audience into her chart-topping hit “It’s Too Late.” “Way Over Yonder” and “You’ve Got a Friend” rounded out the initial set. Throughout each piece her voice echoed radiantly, and she played with the passion of someone who had just written each song days earlier based on an experience fresh on their mind. Not even technical difficulties with her backup’s amplifications could put a damper on the night, as during a brief interruption, King smiled to the crowd and proclaimed, “No problem! It’s show business…IT’S LIVE MUSIC!”
After completing the initial set, King looked out to the crowd and joked, “This stage is ‘Too Big’ for us to do the whole ‘Go off/Are they going to come back?’ thing.” She quickly kicked into the foot-stomping song “I Feel the Earth Move,” and concluded her set with an audience sing-along to her beloved hit “Natural Woman.” Many men in the audience sang as if they also felt like a natural woman that night.
There was an almost sobering quiet once Carole King had left the building, almost a reverence for what the audience had just been able to witness. Welcome to Sundance, Carole King. Please come back anytime.