Paul Simon, SECC, Glasgow
By Pierre Perrone
Published: 07 November 2006
Though he found fame as part of a duo with Art Garfunkel, Paul Simon did as much as Bob Dylan or James Taylor to create the singer-songwriter template. He also formed a strong bond with the UK during his days on the folk-circuit here in the mid-Sixties and seems happy to be back in Glasgow. ´Thank you for coming, it´s been a while,´ Simon tells the audience after opening with ´Gumboots´ and ´The Boy in the Bubble´ from Graceland, the 1986 album that did so much for world music.
On Surprise, his current, critically acclaimed CD, Simon collaborated with sonic landscaper Brian Eno, and sings the funky ´Outrageous´ with its recurring motif - ´Who´s gonna love you when your looks are gone?´ - as if he were David Byrne of Talking Heads.
The gentle ´Slip Slidin´ Away´ features Mark Stewart - who is sporting a kilt, much to the delight of the Scots crowd - strumming his electric guitar gently with a paintbrush, and segues seamlessly into the rockabilly shuffle of ´You´re the One´ and then the dreamlike ´Train in the Distance´ from Hearts & Bones, his underrated 1983 album.
Now 65, Simon can look back fondly at the golden age of doo-wop and the songwriters housed in New York´s legendary Brill Building where he used to cut demos as Jerry Landis. He takes a detour via ´How Can You Live in the Northeast?´ from Surprise, touches on gospel with ´Loves Me Like a Rock´, namechecks zydeco accordionist Clifton Chenier on the cajun-flavoured ´That Was Your Mother´ and even sings ´Duncan´ from the Paul Simon album (a UK-chart topper in 1972).
The gorgeous ´Father and Daughter´ shows that the songwriter can address the middle-age issues so many of his contemporaries have avoided tackling, and ´Cecilia´ sends the nostalgic fans into paroxysms of delight as handclapping breaks out all over the arena.
The capacity crowd brings Simon and his band back for the irresistible ´You Can Call Me Al´, ´Still Crazy after all these Years´ and the evergreen ´Mrs Robinson´. The audience joins in ´Bridge Over Troubled Water´ and seems ready to break into a conga at any point during ´Late in the Evening´. An entertainer of the old school who follows his muse but is equally loath to disappoint his long-standing fans, Simon looks quite teary as he sings ´The Boxer´.