Photo: Brian Rasic

Carole King: Tapestry – Live in Hyde Park

Carole King’s seminal 1971 album Tapestry forms the core of this live album celebrating her long career and immense legacy as influential songwriter and musician.
Carole King
Tapestry: Live in Hyde Park
Legacy Recordings

Carole King has enjoyed a lengthy and varied career in the music industry, initially as an in-house songwriter and later as an important and celebrated singer-songwriter following the release of Tapestry in 1971. It’s no surprise then that one of her largest (and latest) concert performances, at Hyde Park in London for the British Summer concert series on July 3, 2016, focused on performing Tapestry in its entirety and highlighted her career fully, from songwriting with Gerry Goffin in the 1960s to continued success since the 1970s. Capturing that concert is this new live audio and video album, released as Tapestry: Live in Hyde Park.

Though billed in part to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Tapestry, the 2016 concert presented on this live album goes far beyond the legacy of Carole King’s largest selling record. The first 12 tracks follow the sequencing of Tapestry but embrace the energy of over 65,000 in attendance at Hyde Park, King asking them to sing along or lead in places on the songs. Starting this live album with Tapestry recreates the 1973 and 1976 performances King gave celebrating the album and performing nearly all live, but delivers the record in its entirety.

The audience’s energy transfers to King in this first set, too, the first songs carry a strain in her voice that fades by “Where You Lead”. King tells stories between songs and cheerfully brings life to the songs as more than performances or celebrations of a 45-year legacy. She sounds enthralled, embraced, and humbled by the audience, granting the performances a life that flows through this release. It’s fun, too, and by “Smackwater Jack”, “Tapestry”, and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, the energy sets up the transition to equally famous tracks from her career before and after Tapestry.

The segue into a second set is fast-paced in a unique way. While King focuses on well-known tracks from her career, she starts the second set with a medley of Goffin/King tracks. “Take Good Care of My Baby”, “It Might As Well Rain Until September”, “Go Away Little Girl”, “I’m Into Something Good”, and “One Fine Day”, flow together quickly in less than a four-minute track, and King highlights well-known performers of each song — primarily highlighting British performers for her Hyde Park audience (Herman’s Hermits for “I’m Into Something Good”). Additional Goffin/King tracks round out the second set but are featured in their entirety for the personal and professional relevance King shares in the concert and with her audience.

Standing out among the second set of songs is “Chains” (which King does not introduce by its most well-known performers, the Beatles — a nod that might have been principally for her Hyde Park audience), that builds up through clapping and King imploring and challenging the audience to augment. Engaging the audience with this track further livens King’s vocal delivery, even while it is additionally bolstered by strong backup vocalists. The focus carries into “Jazzman” and “Up on the Roof”, before fully diving into pure fun with “Locomotion”. The concert concludes with two reprises featuring the cast of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.

There is a lot to enjoy and relish in Tapestry: Live in Hyde Park. Beyond a simple goal of celebrating the 45th anniversary of the 1971 album, this release celebrates Carole King’s immense impact on popular music. She plays a keen awareness that while Tapestry was big and playing it in sequence satisfied her audience and fans, so, too, did those tracks that flowed across her career. “Chains” and “Jazzman” both serve to represent the immensity of her success and impact and the versions included here deserve notation alongside the full performance of Tapestry (so do other solo and co-written tracks). To that end, this release offers more than it promises and should hold appeal beyond King’s fanbase. Tapestry: Live in Hyde Park chronicles King’s 2016 concert exquisitely and documents performances of songs that give her an immense legacy in popular music history.

RATING 8 / 10