Carole King Live at Hyde Park – ‘a pure delight’

 

On a gorgeous summer’s evening in Hyde Park, Carole King played her first live show in the UK for 27 years and performed her 1971 album Tapestry in full for the very first time. Her humble and charming performance was a pure delight to watch, in fact the whole day (as part of BST Hyde Park) was just gorgeous.

Earlier in the afternoon, Michael Kiwanuka treated us to a stunning set, culminating with the title track from his upcoming second album ‘Love & Hate’. With his smooth, soulful voice and simmering guitar, Kiwanuka was the perfect soundtrack to a very sunny, chilled and happy Hyde Park.

Up next was Don Henley whose Californian sound was perfect for the rare sunshine with Henley joking; “Look, the sun! What’s that doing here?” To be honest, I couldn’t think of a better place to have experienced seeing Henley live for the first time. The atmosphere, the heat, the setting – everything was just perfect. And as I sang along to ‘Sunset Grill’ and ‘Life in the Fast Lane’, I felt so ridiculously content. Though the highlight, of course, was ‘The Boys Of Summer’ live in that gorgeous sun, sunglasses on and hair slicked back.

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Don Henley performs to a sold-out crowd in the London sunshine.

Throughout the years, Carole King’s music has been given new life – whether through the numerous cover versions of her songs, or her reworking of ‘Where You Lead’ for the TV show Gilmore Girls. Of course, the success of the West End musical ‘Beautiful’, has also seen her music enter the hearts of a whole new audience while reinvigorating her original fans. Looking around at the rest of the audience, there were a fair few original fans of King but also plenty of mothers and daughters, families and couples, young and old. Either way, the atmosphere was beautifully chilled and happy.

Carole King’s Tapestry was released 45 years ago and yet, its songs resonate as strongly today as they did back in the 1970s. I’m sure every artist dreams of having their own Tapestry, an album so beautiful, varied and packed with hits that it is sometimes hard to believe they could all have come in one package. From the rousing opener ‘I Feel the Earth Move’ to the stunning ‘You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman’ (made famous by Aretha Franklin), it is a timeless reminder of the power of music and song writing.

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Screens showed a young Carole King singing ‘Feel Like A Natural Woman’ before the present day King joined in. 

Seeing this wonderful album being brought to life last night was something very special. King’s voice is now distinctly more raspy, but like the record itself, it has aged very well. It was also lovely to see such a well-known performer seem so genuinely grateful for the crowd’s response. The whole performance was just gorgeous, with highlights including King’s duet with her daughter Louise Goffin for ‘Where You Lead’, as well as the West End cast of the Carole King musical joining her on stage for a reprise of ‘I Feel the Earth Move’.

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Louise Goffin joins her mother for ‘Where You Lead’.

As King performed songs from Tapestry, as well as other hits such as ‘Chains’ and ‘The Loco-Motion’ – it also highlighted her incredible talents as a songwriter. From capturing the sadness of a breakup in ‘It’s Too Late’ to the pure joy of dance in ‘The Loco-Motion’, King has been able to cover an incredible range of emotions and feelings in all of her songs. Last night she made us feel emotional, sad, free and joyful in just under two hours. And as she remarked “this is what 74 looks like”, I had never felt so happy at the thought of growing older.