The neck of my Guitar
S&G Keep Their Customers Satisfied 6 Dec. 2003. New York Times

Simon & Garfunkel Keep Their Customers Satisfied

Published: December 6, 2003

Filed at 2:21 p.m. ET

NASHVILLE (Billboard) - If anyone questioned whether the Simon & Garfunkel tour would be anything less than a blockbuster, the answer is clear. The 42-date outing has sold virtually every ticket available in the early going.

The first 14 dates reported to Billboard Boxscore grossed an impressive $22.4 million and drew 209,679 people. Twelve of the 14 shows registered as sellouts.

``I think this tour is an extraordinary testament to how timeless these songs and performances were on these records when Simon & Garfunkel were together to start with,'' says John Scher, manager of Art Garfunkel.

``These songs by Paul and performances by Paul and Artie clearly have struck a chord in people's lives.''

The tour is averaging a whopping $1.6 million per night at the box office. That's enough to make it one of the top-grossing tours of 2003, even though it did not get under way until October.

This was a tour that promoters, venues and fans all have been eagerly anticipating. ``I'm not surprised at all that it's doing so well,'' says Rick Franks, executive VP of national booking and director of the Midwest division for Clear Channel Entertainment.

Other promoters are equally enthusiastic. ``This is the hottest tour of the past couple of years,'' says Jerry Mickelson, co-president of Jam Productions, whose S&G dates include Oct. 24-25 sellouts at Chicago's United Center ($3.7 million) and Oct. 26-27 sellouts at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. ($3.2 million).

Franks' Oct. 18-19 dates at the Palace of Auburn Hills (Mich.) grossed $3.2 million. ``It was over the top,'' he says. ``They sounded fabulous, and the crowd was so loud you couldn't hear yourself, non-stop for 21/2 hours.''

``These shows have been truly remarkable,'' Another Planet president Gregg Perloff says.

Perloff's company promoted several S&G shows, including two at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., that grossed $4.2 million from Nov. 4-5 shows. The San Jose stop is the top-grossing engagement to date.

For Perloff, though, the success of this tour transcends financial considerations. ``This is a piece of history for our time, spanning several generations,'' Perloff says. ``We're talking about some of the best songs ever created, and when you hear them perform them and see how the harmonies work and who sings what part, you realize what a brilliant act this is.''

According to Scher, the audience has ``skewed a bit younger than we thought it would be. We thought the crowd would be exclusively 40-plus, but we're selling a significant number of tickets to people in their 20s and 30s, as well as a number of families.''

The Everly Brothers provide support, placed uniquely in the middle of the Simon & Garfunkel set, which Perloff calls a shrewd move in pacing. ``That's a brilliant move: paying homage to the Everly Brothers in the middle of their own show.''

Perloff believes this tour will solidify Simon & Garfunkel's place in music history. ``I think this tour will elevate them to the absolute upper echelon of great artists of the last 40 years,'' he says. ``In the past it has almost seemed like they never got the credit they deserved.''

That will change, according to Perloff. ``I think this tour will place them at the very top of the list, along with the Beatles and Rolling Stones.''

The tour has dates on the books through Dec. 21 in Tampa, Fla., with the potential to go into 2004. ``We're in very preliminary discussions about extending dates into next spring,'' Scher says. ``There is a possibility we could continue and do more. We're getting interest from all over the world.''


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