CONCERT REVIEW: Near-flawless show no ´˜Surprise´ for Simon fans; ´60s icon showcases new CD but doesn´t spare the favorites
Paul Simon played Mohegan Sun Casino last night. (Courtesy photo)
By LARRY CLAFLIN Jr.
The Patriot Ledger
Paul Simon hasn´t missed a beat - in fact he´s added quit a few, as proven by his performance last night at Mohegan Sun Casino.
Simon, of the beloved ´60s duo Simon and Garfunkel, had most everyone in the arena dancing - even several gray-haired ushers - throughout his 100-minute, 22-song performance that touched on all his music. Many crowd favorites were pumped up and rearranged. And how could they not be, considering he has such a crack backing band?
Opening with ´˜´˜Gumboot,´´ the diminutive Simon, dressed in dark pants, red baseball cap and an un-tucked, green dress shirt, commanded the room just by singing and playing a Fender Stratocaster. He gave a shy smile and leaned into his guitar, keeping pace all night with guitarists Vincent Nguni and Mark Stewart.
Tony Cedras´ accordion started off the second tune, ´˜´˜The Boy in the Bubble,´´ and the band followed, framing Simon´s quick lyrical delivery as he sang about life, death, war and technology. Cedras soon moved to keyboard and later switched to trumpet through the night, even picking up a guitar at one point. In fact, multi-instrumentalists were all over the stage, with Stewart playing flute and then saxophone for a rousing version of ´˜´˜You Can Call Me Al.´´ Not to be outdone, the versatile Andy Snitzer jumped from keyboard to sax to clarinet all night.
Simon is touring in support of his new CD, ´˜´˜Surprise,´´ and the crowd seemed to love ´˜´˜Outrageous,´´ chuckling to the refrain ´˜´˜Who´s gonna love you when your looks are gone? God will.´´ That´s the thing about Simon - he´s so well liked and such a crafty lyricist that his audience will take to his new music in concert, which is not the case with other musicians that have been around awhile.
The favorites did follow, such as ´˜´˜Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard,´´ ´˜´˜Mrs. Robinson,´´ ´˜´˜Loves Me Like a Rock,´´ ´˜´˜Duncan,´´ ´˜´˜Graceland,´´ ´˜´˜Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes,´´ ´˜´˜Still Crazy After All These Years´´ and ´˜´˜Cecilia´´ - all songs that Simon and Co. fleshed out with a vibrant musical spin.
Simon also offered many gems from ´˜´˜Smile´´: ´˜´˜Father and Daughter,´´ a touching song about a parent´s protective nature, during which he was accompanied by a young boy with an angelic voice; and two more serious tunes, ´˜´˜How Can You Live in The Northeast?´´ and ´˜´˜Wartime Prayers.´´
The night´s opener, Jerry Douglas, joined Simon during the first encore, fitting right in with his Dobro on an extended version of the ´˜´˜The Boxer,´´ and the crowd joined in with the lyrics. The audience continued singing during ´˜´˜Bridge Over Troubled Water,´´ the last song of the night, but as hard as they tried, there was something missing from the song: Art Garfunkel´s voice, which can´t be replicated.
With the Jerry Douglas Band, last night at Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Conn.
Copyright 2006 The Patriot Ledger
Transmitted Monday, July 10, 2006