Vincent Nguini - Guitar
Bakithi Kumalo - Bass
Mark Stewart - Guitars, Cello, Saxophone, selfmade instruments
Tony Cedras - Accordeon, Keyboard, Guitars
Andy Snitzer - Saxophone, Synthesizer
Jamey Haddad - Percussion
Mick Rossi - Piano, Percussion
Jim Oblon - Drums, Guitars
Amazing concert, Paul looked very slim and quite cool. The band was enjoying themselves making jokes and faces and communicating with each other and some people in the audience. Paul talked more to the audience (even interacting with the audience) than in any other concert of his I have been to. Only Vincent Nguini seemed to be quite tired and hardly moved a facial muscle.
Paul had a wasp as a special fan stalking him during several songs. It was really amazing how this didn´t befuddle him in the least.
Bakithi trashed his first solo on ´You Can Call Me Al´ and everybody in the band was grinning broadly while Bakithi made funny faces sticking his tongue out. After the closing solo he made a face of relief that it went well this time. He also had to play some unusual percussion instruments. Sometimes he seemed to look for an extra challenged and played his bass fretting the notes from above the neck instead of from below.
Also very memorable: Mick Rossi got a big piano solo at the end of some song (sorry, don´t remember which) which was really, well, complicated. Cadences and scales flying by at absurd speed. Everybody in the band including Paul stared at him frozen on the spot with an expression of disbelief. Some time during the solo I thought this was leading over to ´Bridge´ but it didn´t.
I very much liked the fact that Paul only played two S&G-songs, ´The Only Living Boy´ and ´Sound of Silence´. To me he could have dropped ´SoS´, too. I have heard it so many times and I would rather have him play the songs he enjoys to play and not those he beliefs people expect to hear. In addition the version was not very different from what he has been playing for some years (very beautiful, of course!).
Generally I liked that he did play quite a lot of songs that are very good songs even for Paul´s standards but not that popular among the casual listeners (could have been more, though, see my comment on ´SoS´). ´Peace like a River´, ´Gone at Last´ and ´The Only Living Boy´ are great examples for this.
He did play quite a lot of songs from ´Graceland´ but not the title song. The show began with ´Boy in the Bubble´ which featured Mark Stewart playing a heavily distorted guitar part (first time I remember hearing a seriously distorted electric guitar in a Paul Simon-concert or recording!). The only song I did not like was ´Crazy Love, vol. 2´. Somehow everybody in the band was doing his own thing on that song and - perhaps due to the acoustics of the Zitadelle - everything got very muffled and unclear.
As far as I remember he did not play a single song from ´Surprise´ or ´You´re the One´. I guess he didn´t want to play too many songs that only the truest of his fans would know and preferred to show-case only the songs from the new CD (which he seems to consider stronger material than the preceding two).
The new songs were received very well even though I suspect that quite a lot of people didn´t know them. Especially ´Dazzling Blue´ left everybody amazed and it took some seconds after the ending of the last note before the audience roared.
Unfortunately they did not play Vietnam/Mother and Chile Reunion which I had hoped for. I believe that they had to play a shorter set because of noise emission limitations in the Zitadelle (no music after 10 pm) and perhaps also because they had to play Mainz the next day. The concert lasted a solid two hours, though.
In front of Paul there was a small extension to the stage. I guess this was meant to give him some extra distance from any potentially crazy fan crossing the security fence. He obviously wasn´t very sure whether this was a solid construction and before he stepped on it to thank the audience he pushed it a few times with his feet to see whether it would support him. He made a funny face when doing so.
Generally he did seem to have enjoyed the show, something that didn´t always seem to be the case when I saw him. He said the stuff that most artist will say on stage like how much they enjoyed coming to the place where they are and thanking in the local language. I wouldn´t care about this at all but I never heard Paul Simon do that which made it somewhat remarkable.
After the concert there were some fireworks (yeah, they would let them have that...). I like fireworks anyway (who doesn´t?) but this one was really special because the sky was still bright blue making the fireworks much nicer than usually. You wouldn´t believe it unless you saw it.
I was pretty close to centre stage and saw some people who obviously followed the tour to see more than one show (some French and Spanish fans among them who had already seen other shows and chatted about going to Mainz the next day). What I don´t understand is how little these fans seemed to enjoy the show. Just taking notes of the songs, texting about the concert, recording the show with their smartphones, taking photographs, hushing people who applauded after the beginning of a song or just standing with folded arms. No dancing or moving at all but taking the best places.
You people may believe you are the best of his fans. You are not. Please, stay away!
This was my first ever PS show, we travelled from Hungary to see him and totally worth it!
The venue was beautiful and intimate - I think its capacity was less than 1000 people. We succeeded standing in the first row in the middle right before Simon.
The show itself was what we expected. Simon´s weak, but effective voice and very loose, spontaneous performance which I´ve never seen before any of his concert videos. He and the band seemed enjoying themselves after the first few songs, the whole performance seemed fresh since they were playing many new songs and ommitting the overplayed hits. The highlights for me were the Hearts And Bones medley which featured drummer Jim Oblon on fingerpicking guitar (accidentaly on the same afternoon we shared our table with him in a fastfood restaurant in the center of the city, but I wasn´t sure if he was that guy) and Gone At Last. Though this tour is not really about the hits, it was fun and moving to hear Sounds Of Silence and You Can Call Me Al live from THAT guy. These two songs always give me cheerful moments and I´m sure that millions of people feel the same way.
When we were waiting for the gates open we heard the soundcheck too. They started with Gumboots and Late In The Evening. They went through Afterlife, Dazzling Blue, So Beautiful and finally Kodachrome / Gone At Last. The coda of this last song was played several times over and over wich made me curious what to rehearse more at the end of the tour :)
It seemed to be a right decision that Simon went to and indie label or not sticking to the point in his career when he was bigger star than today and played just in arenas. He´s humble with his age and the fact that the musical history might be over him and that thing makes him unique and authentic today.
Anyway we organized a little holiday over this Berlin gig and I recommend to all of you visiting this beautiful city.
Andris from Budapest