Elise Hoffeld Schilowitz of Maitland remembers pop icon, Paul Simon, from her sixth grade classroom at P.S. 164 in Kew Gardens Hills, New York, where he also was a fellow congregant at the Jewish Center. Schilowitz dug up an old class photo, and noted, ´Paul Simon is still easy to pick out from our class picture. Though I haven´t seen him in 50 years, he hasn´t seemed to change all that much.´ Fortunately for Simon´s voluminous fans, his crowd-pleasing vocals and iconic harmonies haven´t changed much over the past half century, either.
On March 16 pop legend Paul Simon (now 72 years old) delivered a two and a half hour powerhouse performance, alongside the iconic Sting (now 62 years old), at the Amway Arena in downtown Orlando. Simon and Sting have put their solo careers on hold while touring the country for the past six weeks as a dynamic duo.
As the concert began, Simon addressed the full house, sharing that Orlando was the last stop on the tour, and promised it would also be the best. The two senior musicians shared the billing and the stage, during an inspiring evening of beloved classics. The twosome intermingled their legendary playlists, singing both duet-style and as a tag-team, all the while interspersing individual sets. The aging rockers showed no signs of slowing, the only visible evidence of wear and tear could be found in the pair´s receding hairlines. The men carried the concert with their talent alone, which was a welcome throwback to simpler times, with no intermission, opening acts, pyrotechnics, or other special effects (aside from lighting).
The celebrated musicians both complimented and complemented one another´s musical style throughout the concert. Simon noted that the risk of combining ´two very different catalogues of music´ intrigued him, and that he had learned a great deal from Sting throughout their tour. In a recent interview in early March (Roger Friedman of showbiz 411), Sting spoke of Simon´s mentoring influence upon his music, joking that Simon was the Jewish grandmother that he was lacking. Sting shared that it was his goal as a young songwriter and musician to be a ´literate and literary musician´ like Simon, 10 years his senior. The former neighbors, who had lived in the same building in New York City for a time, harmonized like two old pals from down the street. Art Garfunkel was hardly missed, as the duo sang a moving rendition of Simon and Garfunkel´s ´Bridge over Troubled Water.´
The combined bands orchestrated a blend of instrumentation, showcasing the influence of world music upon both men. A strong brass section, cello, a slew of percussion instruments, and even an accordion backed up the eclectic playlist, highlighting some of their best works. The show opened with the spirit of cooperation. The team kicked off with Sting´s ´Brand New Day,´ followed by Paul Simon´s ´Boy in the Bubble.´ Old favorites like ´Message in the Bottle´ (Sting), ´Every Little Thing She Does is Magic´ (Sting), ´Graceland´ (Simon,), and ´50 Ways to Leave your Lover´ (Simon) wowed the crowd right out of their seats, grandmothers dancing alongside 30-somethings.
As the concert as well as the tour came to an end, the good feelings amongst the performers spilled over into the audience. Simon assured onlookers that, in fact, this last concert had been the best. The effusive applause and encore requests from the crowd affirmed his statement. Despite the generous playlist, the 180-plus minute concert was unable to absorb the more than 90 years of material between the two celebrated artists, leaving concert-goers hungry for future collaborative efforts. Let´s hope these age-defying artists keep on rocking for many years to come.