PORTLAND – James Taylor famously sang about “sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground.” But since he first appeared on the scene, his music has more often been associated with soft landings. Some may perceive him as, at times, a bit too mellow. But many more will gladly come out to hear that familiar voice that seems forever reassuring us of “the promise of another day.”

A large crowd enthusiastically welcomed the 64-year-old singer-songwriter into Maine’s largest arena on Sunday night for an evening full of songs, many of which hold permanent places on the play lists of a generation (or two). Though an early summer outdoor show might have been ideal, the focus of most folks was on where the music would take them rather than on where they actually were.

An early stop on the journey was “Carolina in My Mind,” with the singer finger picking an acoustic guitar as he sang. Dean Parks added pedal steel to the mix on this really pretty tune. Soon after, they took a trip down a “Country Road” before Taylor stopped to tell the background story to his “Frozen Man.”

“Handy Man” got a little racy before the singer strapped on an electric guitar for “Steamroller,” hopping and dancing around the stage like a guy who very much still enjoys what he does.

“Fire and Rain,” of course, got everybody’s attention with its timeless story of loss and regret. Later, Taylor found a local tie-in with his “Lighthouse.”

Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” got things rocking again and was followed by perhaps the best number of the evening: “Mexico.” All the elements — mariachi horns, insistent percussion and spirited background vocals — helped carry everyone to a very special musical place.

Touches of folk, blues, rock, jazz, country, gospel, reggae, soul and Latin could be heard at various times during the two-hour-plus performance. Taylor’s band was very good with several stand-out moments by the likes of drummer Steve Gadd, saxophonist Lou Marini (of SNL fame) and keyboard man Larry Goldings. The four-person vocal chorus often surrounded the leader with fetching harmonies.

“Shower the People” preceded a singalong take of “How Sweet It Is” to close the main part of the show on a very high note.

Hearing lyrics like “the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time” was music to the ears of fans who obviously continue to like what this artist is all about.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.