The neck of my Guitar
Paul Simon @ M.E.N. Arena Manchester Eve News

Paul Simon @ M.E.N. Arena

Lawrence Poole
TO paraphrase another prominent sexagenarian - music, hey´¦. bloody hell! And like Sir Alex Ferguson side´s dramatic 1999 European Cup final triumph which garnered such a quip, Paul Simon´s performance last night also took a while to get going and saved the best moments for well into time added on.

Here, to promote his Brian Eno-inspired comeback album, Surprise, on his first proper solo UK tour in 15 years, the 65-year-old seemed to have lost none of his chutzpah for performing live and more importantly, putting on a show.

Concentrating for the first hour of the set re-working the prime cuts from his own back catalogue, rather than the material he wrote, recorded and performed so majestically at the same venue two years ago with long-time collaborator Art Garfunkel, it proved a treat to behold.

Expertly supported by a seven-piece band, who were the epitome of what a highly-skilled bunch of multi-instrumentalists should be, Me and Juilo By The Schoolyard and perhaps his solo career highpoint, Graceland, were sublime.

While new single Outrageous with its cutting ´˜whose gonna love you when you´re looks are gone´ refrain, showed the diminutive New Jersey man had lost none of his lyrical bite.

Now swamped by a throng of devoted fans who felt compelled to join him at the photographer pit free stage, much to the chagrin of the security staff who would later over zealously disperse them, he pulled out another big gun, which got everybody on their feet - You Can Call Me Al.


As it soared on wave after wave of monstrous saxophone bursts, it truly was a thrilling moment.

If Simon had left the stage there and then most would have filled out in a content fashion, but thankfully the early start was set in place for a reason - so he could liberally sprinkle them with classic standards from the Graceland LP as well as others plumped for from the sizable Simon and Garfunkel cannon.

And, while it might have been more judicious to have spread these out across the set - you couldn´t argue with a roll call that included Mrs Robinson, a beautifully hushed The Boxer and Bridge Over Troubled Water.

Appropriately, he finally brought proceedings to a halt with the Widnes Station penned Homeward Bound before a prolonged standing ovation swept him off stage.

Resplendent in baseball cap and weekend casuals, he may look like your all-American dad, but once again Simon proved as a songwriter, arranged and performer he´s anything but ordinary.

Let´s just hope that like Sir Alex, Simon has no plans for retirement just yet.

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