by Peter Grant
SO let´s get the 10 out of 10 out of the way now. There are some performers who have the ultimate X factor - a huge back catalogue to use on every tour.
Every show illustrates why they deserve superstar status.
Paul Simon is one of them. At 66 he just gets better all the time.
This musician from New Jersey is full of surprises, from his own diverse pop track record with Simon and Garfunkel to solo success, and his gift for opening up world music to new generations. On stage he presents a career in progress.
Paul doesn´t speak much but when he does it is always accompanied by a warm smile. ´Hello again,´ he said as he praised the ECHO arena: ´Nice place . . . it´s better than the tent, but , hey, that audience was great - so let´s see what happens tonight.´
No worries about that on this date, part of only a few UK gigs in 08.
A relaxed Paul applauded Liverpool for being European Capital of Culture: ´Well deserved - long overdue.´
Then he oozed his way through a greatest hits set and more. Newer material such as the beautiful Father And Daughter sitting alongside the classic S & G songs The Only Living Boy in New York and Mrs Robinson.
His solo output was given sparkling interpretations thanks to his faultless seven- piece band on such numbers as Duncan, Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard and Slip Slidin´ Away.
The Graceland album period was well-covered, too, with a rousing funkier-than-normal Diamond In The Soul Of Her Shoes. Train In The Distance and You´re The One show what a craftsman he is when bringing lyrics and melodies together.
One poignant highlight was Paul alone in a spotlight singing the Sound of Silence. Still Crazy After All These Years, The Boxer and You Can Call Me Al had everyone on their feet.
He finished his diverse two-hour plus set with Late In The Evening.
Simon left the stage with just one message: ´See you down the road.´
I hope that means he´ll be back.