Welcome To My Living Room (DVD)

Carole King

Rockingale Records, 2007


REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


Twenty-one top 40 hits and seven #1 singles. How many artists could pack that many hits into a set list… with every one being a song they wrote? That list is a very short one, and it starts with Carole King.

King, who started out as a teenager in the late 50s writing songs in the iconic Brill Building alongside Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and husband-to-be Gerry Goffin, has toured only intermittently over the years. A few years back she did a series of “living room concerts” in which she would literally sit down at someone’s piano in their home and sing for a couple of hours, chatting with her audience in between songs.

Her subsequent Welcome To My Living Room tour, chronicled on this lovingly assembled DVD, attempts to transfer that cozy atmosphere to a community theater-sized venue seating perhaps 2,000 people. What’s surprising is how well it comes off, even if the sofa and side table props that dress the stage do seem a bit goofy at first.

King is in her 60s now but her voice and energy and stage presence are strong as ever. She looks great and sings even better, and her between-song patter from her piano stool is both warm and informative. Accompaniment is minimal -- Rudy Guess on guitar, bass and backing vocals, and Gary Burr on guitar, bass and vocals, including a couple of duets with King, who generously hands things off to him to take a lead vocal on one of his own compositions.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The set list is perhaps a bit slow to catch fire -- King packs the front end of the show with lesser-known and more recent compositions -- but once she gets to the Gilmore Girls theme song (“Where You Lead, I Will Follow”), the pace picks up. Soon after, “Been To Canaan” features sweet harmonies between King and Burr, who team up again for a rousing version of his own single-composed-for-someone-else “Love’s Been A Little Bit Hard On Me.”

Then it’s hit parade time as King delivers a solid “Smackwater Jack” before diving into a medley of songs she wrote for others, from “I’m Into Something Good” to “Go Away Little Girl” and “One Fine Day” and “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” You only get a verse of each, but it vividly illustrates what seems to be a bottomless well of appealing pop melodies that flow from King’s fingers.

“Up On The Roof” -- also a hit for longtime friend James Taylor -- follows, along with “It’s Too Late” and a very funny intro to what is perhaps King’s best-known song, “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman,” which she recalls playing for a large group of U.S. servicemen who sang along to every word. You might think the hits would start to thin out after that, but you’ve still got “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” “I Feel The Earth Move,” Saddest-Song-Ever candidate “So Far Away” and encores of “You’ve Got A Friend” and “Locomotion” to go.

Special features on this DVD include a “making-of” documentary on the Living Room tour, in-studio rehearsal footage and some fun snippets from Carole and band’s nightly “Songwriting 101” sessions, in which they would enlist the audience’s help to improvise the bare bones of a song onstage in less than five minutes.

Carole King is an icon among singer-songwriters and this DVD is a thoroughly engaging illustration of why. A great holiday gift for the mellow-pop lover in your living room.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2007 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Rockingale Records, and is used for informational purposes only.