Taylor, a Chapel Hill native, was back in the area Saturday night for the fifth show of his 50-city, four-month long "Pull Over" tour.
And Ole String Bean's homecoming concert did not disappoint.
Although Taylor is well-known for his laid-back, mellow voice and gentle guitar picking, he didn't hesitate to let loose with his band and occasionally run around on stage with boyish excitement.
For nearly three hours, fans were treated to a set that ranged from the ballads ("Frozen Man") to the blues ("Steamroller"). But Taylor knew he couldn't leave without playing classics like "Fire and Rain," "You've Got a Friend" and "Sweet Baby James."
Taylor also featured several songs from his latest album, originally scheduled to be released last Christmas, but which will now be released in the fall.
"Fourth of July," which provided a bossa nova feel, featured his talented 11-member band. "Whenever You're Ready" and "I was Raised Up Family" also showcased recent additions to JT's repertoire.
Taylor seemed at home with his band, together again for the first time in three years. His background vocalists provided rich, soulful four-part harmonies during songs like "Shed a Little Light" and "Sun on the Moon." And fans rose to their feet after Arnold McCuller reigned during his booming "Shower the People" solo. Taylor's energetic version of Marvin Gaye's "How Sweet It Is," even without Carly Simon's vocals, gave people a chance to get out of their lawn chairs and dance to the music.
It was obvious throughout the show where Sweet Baby James spent much of his childhood days, as he jokingly referred to his former home as "the land of tobacco and Jesse Helms."
Taylor also sang "Copperline," a song co-written by friend Reynolds Price, a well-known Durham author. Introducing the song, Taylor said, "It's about a creek down the road in Chapel Hill." He was referring to Morgan Creek, mentioned by name in the song.