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
Paul Simon walked on stage with an acoustic guitar and started working the opening chords to ´The Sound Of Silence.´ It was the first encore of his sold out show Saturday April 23rd at the Pechanga Theater in Temecula, California, and it was the defining moment of the evening. Sung in hushed tones, the breathtaking classic was a line-by-line testament to the depth and talent of Paul Simon the poet.
Raising chills throughout the crowd, Simon took his time and delivered a moment that will forever stand out to me as one of the most memorable live performances of a song I have ever experienced.
Simon knows how to keep good company. Obviously, the Garfunkel thing went well, and then in the late eighties his journey into world music and the recording of the Graceland album lead him to a handful of new friends. Simon had a few of those old buddies in tow to help him run through a spirited career-spanning set. Three members from the Graceland days filled out a talented, eight piece backing band that kicked into the opening number ´Crazy Love´ from the Graceland sessions with resounding exuberance. Simon and band came out of the box firing, opening up with a rich multi-layered sound that established the depth to the night´s show . Walking right into the second number ´Dazzling Blue´ from his exceptional new record So Beautiful or So What, Simon began the night´s pattern of sprinkling in a few of these new songs. When the drums started laying down the thick back beat to ´50 Ways To Leave Your Lover,´ the Pechanga crowd responded gratefully, welcoming the first pass at some of the older material. The next few songs did the back and forth of new song-old song, giving the new material, especially ´Rewrite,´ an opportunity to stand up proudly next to Simon´s more well known material. Though when Simon launched into ´The Obvious Child,´ the band got an opportunity to take center stage. With Simon stepping away from the microphone and melding into the background, the band stretched out the African rhythms and cranked up the pace. Another Graceland track ´The Boy In The Bubble´ continued to push the high energy, adding another layer to the diverse sounds that the talented band continued to produce. ´Love Is An Eternal Sacred Light´ was the last of the new material sung before Simon finished the first set with rousing versions of ´Diamonds On The Soles of Her Shoes´ and ´Gumboots.´
Two encores later it was over and the audience seemed stunned, especially after enjoying the nostalgia of singing, stomping, dancing, and clapping along to the last encore of ´Kodachrome´ and ´Late In the Evening.´ The show seemed to end abruptly, clocking in after only an hour and a half. And, due to the absolutely flawless performance, over-the-top talented band, and timeless material presented by Simon, there was no way he wasn´t going to leave you wanting more.