The songwriting legend ended his months-long tour in the DC area

James Taylor concluded his 2023 tour with the last of three shows at Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA on Sunday (Sept 10th).

In a 24-song, two-set performance, Taylor and his eight-piece band demonstrated what quality singer-songwriter fare is all about. Opening with “Something in the Way She Moves,” Taylor welcomed the crowd under a canopy of warm campfire-like lighting.

Taking a stool as his first set began, it was clear Taylor was treating Wolf Trap as his living room, and the 7,000 in the stands were his invited guests.

Each number was accompanied by visuals that perfectly complimented his compositions. After all, Taylor admitted he sometimes thinks like a painter, calling “Copperline” a North Carolina, “Landscape in a Song.” “Sweet Baby James” features images of a classic pop-up book that tells the story of a toddler dreaming of adventures on the ranch. And “Mona,” Taylor’s wry song about his pet pig, showed pictures of Taylor with the porker.

So mellow was the first set of music, when Taylor switched to his Carolina-blue electric guitar for the bluesy “Steamroller,” it elicited gasps from the audience. Next came “Mexico,” a Jimmy Buffet-like breezy piece of musical escapism.

Taylor also elicited belly laughs. Deep laughs at his dry wit and deadpan delivery. Taylor compared his electric guitar to the “gas-powered” and “horse-and-buggy” guitars of the past in one hysterical story. He had the crowd guffawing just as hard as he had them intently listening. Rare is the entertainer who can achieve this.

Though most of Taylor’s music is acoustic guitar-driven, Taylor’s impeccable band still had their time to shine. “Steamroller” showcased their talents and earned His All-Star Band a standing ovation. Set one closer “Up on the Roof” similarly displayed the group’s incredible ability to layer complex sounds into a musical image.

The second set was more hits-heavy—a fact Taylor himself teased throughout the first half. “You’ve Got a Friend” was followed immediately by “Carolina in My Mind.” “Shower the People” succeeded “Fire and Rain.”

With each note of these time-tested classics, it was clear we were all watching something special unfold as an icon’s notes gripped us and had us United by melody. Not beholden to any genre, stars of country, folk, rock, pop, and beyond cite Taylor as an influence. For James Taylor songs don’t just define a generation. Taylor’s body of work continues to define music itself.