Here´s my take on last night´s show. What a fabulous show!
Cheers, Andrew Teton, Santa Barbara, USA
== Simon & Garfunkel with special Guests, The Everly Brothers Los Angeles CA Staples Center Monday November 17, 2003 ==
As the Simon & Garfunkel tour continues across America, most reviews offered a consistent tone about an evening rich in beloved music performed by two artists who bring this music freshly to life. So as I settled in my seats at The Staples Center in Los Angeles Monday night (11-17-03) I felt pretty confident I knew what to expect.
But I was wrong. I cannot tell you how much I was shocked by how fabulous and exciting Simon and Garfunkel and their tremendous band were.
I can start by saying I was relieved that the illnesses that caused two California cancellations last week were not stopping this show as we watched The Staples Center fill to the brim.
As pre-concert prep, I had been playing Simon & Garfunkel recordings recently, and I was appreciating how timeless and touching their songs were, but a whole new level of excitement, punch, and poetry came out as they enthralled huge coliseum audience for two hours. Even Art Garfunkel seemed to have a similar thought; after one of several
standing ovations he said, ´You know, when we were rehearsing for this tour, we really didn´t expect it to go down so well.´ Indeed!
Kudos go to their concert crew for pulling off the challenge of cleanly filling a massive venue with sound as delicate as two sweet voices and a single guitar ´“ yet also amplifying an 8-piece band truly rocking out, yet keeping the sound crisp.
When I first heard The Everlys were also part of the ´Old Friends´ tour, I could scarcely believe it. It seemed too good to be true. And I committed myself to buying tickets whether Don & Phil were really going to be in every city or not. I can say without hesitation the Simon & Garfunkel´s show itself was undeniably great and well worth attending ´“ in fact afterwards I felt I had taken part in a communal rite with my fellow aging flower children!
As an Everly fanatic, I somehow thought more people would have known about their inclusion on this tour. But that was not the case, and only increased the dramatic impact of their appearance. After a brief snippet of their early Everly soundalike ´Hey, Schoolgirl´ Paul spoke about their indebtedness to the Everly Brothers and then introduced them. As Phil and Don came onto the stage I looked around me and saw the look of shock and heard the excited response of the crowd that turned to yelps and screams as Don machine-gunned the acoustic guitar intro to ´Wake Up, Little Susie.´ I was especially pleased to see the two other couples that came with us look at me with complete shock and say ´Did you know this was going to happen?´ They knew I was an Everly fanatic ´“ but they know me to be a blabbermouth ´“ they were just as amazed I hadn´t blurted out this information in all the weeks of anticipation!
The Everlys performed with a scaled back group of the stage band and wowed the audience with their three ´solo´ songs. When they launched into ´All I Have To Do is Dream´, the stage lighting switched to a blue mirror-ball effect that set the entire coliseum swimming and swirling in soft blue spangles of light and the effect was amazing ´“ I think 12,000 baby boomers were suddenly back in junior high gyms all over America at one of their first dances!
I have never seen the Everlys in such a huge setting, and to my hypercritical ear, I detected some small little patches, a couple of seconds here and there, in their performance that were just a tiny bit off. I think if they had more stage time they would have reached a more balanced sound and the stage miking would have been refined. But truly, this comment is like criticizing a brush
stroke in a Vermeer painting.
It was a novelty seeing Don with a rather different look (sort of split bangs like a saloon keeper in a western movie.) I thought their selection of two sensitive ballads was a good one because S&G did just fine on some of their own rocking numbers, but nobody, not even Simon and Garfunkel who were sounding great, can match that haunting, echoed sweetness of Everly harmony.
When S&G joined the Everlys for that happy-sad song, ´Bye-Bye, Love´ at that point - and I´m not the first to note this - the Simon & Garfunkel absolutely, unequivocally moved up a notch in their performances. How would you and your partner sing if you were exchanging verses with The Everly Brothers? It was as if Paul & Art suddenly found an extra gear in a manual transmission. From that point on, all of their harmonies were more balanced, their performances more immediate, and the band also seemed catalyzed with them.
Don had quickly thanked Paul and Art for bringing them along on the ´Old Friends´ tour and that was a nice touch. I think it is a great gift from Paul and Art to (re)introduce the magnificent sound of The Everly Brothers to tens of thousands of music lovers ´“ many of whom I am sure were not aware the Evs were still around and still capable
of weaving magic from their voices.
So thank you Paul and Art ´“ and as always, thank you Don & Phil.