It is rare that I use ‘magic’ to describe a music or any other event, but magical is the perfect description for the evening with Livingston Taylor at The Extended Play Sessions at the Fallout Shelter.
Liv is celebrating his 50th year of making music; that honors the year he first seriously picked up a guitar, not the year of his first album release. He may not be as much of a household name as his elder brother James, but he is every bit as talented.
At this show, Liv took us on a journey with him. He played some of his songs and some songs written by masters of musical theatre (Oscar Hammerstein II, Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg, to name a few). His version of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ is well-known, and it’s hard to believe anyone does it better (not counting Judy Garland).
Liv played solo guitar as well as piano on a few songs, but for most of the set Matt Cusson, a fabulous former Berklee student of Liv, played piano and sang harmonies as well as trading leads. They sounded beautiful together.
Liv has the ability – he would call it stage presence – to look at me and make me feel as if I was the only person in the room. He draws me closer with every note; I want to bathe in his music and in most respects, that is exactly what happened last night.
I hope his Berklee students understand how lucky they are. His course is called ‘Stage Performance’ and initially I thought the course would teach musical theatre performance. As Liv explained, he helps his students learn to perform in a way that draws their audiences toward them and conveys the feeling that the musician feels privileged to be playing for that audience. It is a special talent that not every musician possesses, but from my experience, it is what turns a good show into a great one.
Liv’s voice is as good as it ever was, which is to say it is like cashmere.
During the interview, Liv kept his guitar next to him, picking it up several times to help illustrate a point. When discussing his songwriting process, he explained that he keeps melodies in his back pocket, taking them out when the time is right.
One of those times was during the past couple of years when his elderly mother was near the end of her life. He wanted to write a song for her (not about her); he pulled out that melody and wrote a song that left very few dry eyes in the house.
I have a long-standing connection with Liv, even though he did not know it until last night! From his appearance at Career Day at my high school in suburban New York City (1971) to meeting him at college when he visited a friend who was a professor (1973) to a show at the Lowell Summer Music Series where he spoke with a young fan who had watched his sound check and no doubt changed that boy’s life (2012) to last night’s performance and interview (2016), he conveys the power of his music at every moment.
During the encore, Matt performed one of his songs solo and everyone (including Livingston) listened intently.
Liv is releasing a new album in January 2017, and is touring in support of it. Go see him! Buy the album! Make a connection with him!
I hope my words and photos did justice to the magic of the evening. Thank you Liv for being a part of my life.
Posted on October 22, 2016, in concert photos, concert reviews, music, Uncategorized and tagged Berklee College of Music, boston, concert photos, concert review, Extended Play Sessions, Fallout Shelter, folk music, Livingston Taylor, magical, Matt Cusson, music, singer-songwriter. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.