TAMPA - It didn´t really matter that the most recent song performed Sunday night had its first public airing in 1977.
At least it doesn´t matter when performers bring those old songs to life so vividly that age becomes irrelevant.
That´s what Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel and a superb seven-piece band did Sunday night before a St. Pete Times Forum crowd of 17,597.
A number of Simon & Garfunkel´s hits - ``Mrs. Robinson,´´ ``The Sound of Silence´´ and ``Bridge Over Troubled Water,´´ to name but three - inevitably come up when the term ``soundtrack of the ´60s´´ gets tossed around.
And sure, it was a kick to hear those tunes, as well as ``I Am a Rock,´´ ``America´´ and name your favorite, played live and played well.
But some of the most illuminating moments came with less celebrated tunes.
Consider the performance of ``The Only Living Boy in New York,´´ which showed that song capable of going toe-to-toe with any of the aforementioned favorites.
Or take the duo´s versions of two songs from Simon´s solo albums. ``Slip Slidin´ Away´´ was even more heartbreaking live than on Simon´s original. But then Garfunkel´s high harmony burst through like a ray of sunshine through the dark clouds of the lyrics.
And Garfunkel made ``American Tune´´ soar. The song, from 1973, showed Simon still willing to ask the questions his peers had by then abandoned.
The duo also entertained with some self-effacing midset patter that was as sunny as their relationship has been stormy. Garfunkel pointed out that this was the 50th anniversary of their first performance together - in a sixth-grade presentation of ``Alice in Wonderland.´´ Simon responded that they began singing together at age 13 and arguing at 14.
The Everly Brothers, whose influence on Simon & Garfunkel was evident in a performance of ``Hey Schoolgirl,´´ their first single (recorded as Tom & Jerry), came out to perform a trio of songs. The duo´s country-tinged harmonies still shone. Simon & Garfunkel then joined their heroes for ``Bye Bye Love.´´
The duo´s band provided superb backing. Guitarist Mark Stewart´s effects-laden guitar led the way into an excellent jam at the end of ``Homeward Bound,´´ which also featured fine playing from guitarist Larry Saltzman and pianist Warren Bernhardt.
The band took the stage at the end of the evening for an apparently impromptu closing jam on ``Mrs. Robinson.´´
But the most transcendent moments belonged to Simon & Garfunkel alone, on numbers such as ``Scarborough Fair´´ and ``Kathy´s Song,´´ in which Garfunkel´s still angelic tenor, Simon´s subtle but brilliant guitar playing and their trademark harmonies combined to make a sound that exists in a time of its own.
TAMPA - It takes a band like Simon & Garfunkel to inspire 17,597 fans, young and old, to gather Sunday at the St. Pete Times Forum and join the legendary folk duo on another winning stop of its ´Old Friends´ reunion tour. One of this year´s top 20 concerts, the tour is averaging $2.2-million in ticket sales in each city.
What other folk duo from the 1960s could pull that off?
Known as much for classics such as The Sound of Silence, I Am A Rock and Bridge Over Troubled Water, as for the duo´s endless dueling - Simon & Garfunkel have broken up and reunited several times - the band always causes a commotion among fans when it gets back together.
Fittingly, S&G, who met 50 years ago, began the evening with Old Friends. Harmonizing nearly as effortlessly as they did in the 1960s, the two struck a chord with Baby Boomers in the crowd with the lyric, ´how terribly strange to be 70.´
Now both 62, Paul Simon, dressed in a red T-shirt, and Art Garfunkel, clad in dark dress shirt with a snazzy purple tie, stood side by side as their band filled in behind them, diving into a rocking Hazy Shade Of Winter.
The harmonies were a bit more warbly on I Am Rock, but fans didn´t seem to mind. Garfunkel´s high tenor isn´t as crystalline as it used to be, but then again, whose is? Watching him sing, hands in pockets in the classic Garfunkel stance, must have been a treat to longtime fans.
The concert offered another treat: The Everly Brothers. In an unbilled guest spot, the legendary Phil and Don Everly, major influences on the night´s headliners, stepped onstage and performed a short set of rock ´n´ roll classics including Wake Up Little Susie and All I Have To Do Is Dream. Next they performed Bye, Bye Love with Simon & Garfunkel
After the Everlys were received a standing ovation, S&G performed a beautiful, stirring rendition of Scarborough Fair with guitarist Mark Stewart playing cello. Has the spare, elegant song ever sounded so voluptuous?
Many of the duo´s tunes have themes of aging - Leaves That Are Green, Old Friends, Hazy Shade of Winter and Slip Slidin´ Away (from Simon´s solo career, which the two performed). The lyrics, written when Simon was in his 20s, resonate with new twists and turns now that he - and his fans - have lived out many of his prophecies and fears.
Not that the night was all about saying hello to darkness, our old friend. S&G provided a peppy Cecilia, inspiring the audience to sing along. Mrs. Robinson, too, seem to make many in the crowd - not surprisingly, mostly men - feel young enough to shake their hips.