Just got back from the San Jose show. Paul is amazing, he sings great, and the arrangements are lively. Given that they only performed Simon and Garfunkel songs the set was interesting (sorry - no set list, but similar to the ones posted before).
Said that (and those who only like to read good reviews should stop here), I think that the show wasn´t nearly as good as the last Paul Simon tour. Reading previous reviews I had higher expectations, even though I wasn´t very enthusiastic about this tour to start with. The band members are really good, but to my opinion it doesn´t compare with the old band - missing especially Steve Gadd, Vincent Nguini and Bakhiti (well, I guess that the last two did not feet in the S&G
Art looked as if he came directly from the set of ´a mighty wind´. Most of the tones were sang at the right pitch, and roughly at the right time, but I found his voice somewhat empty, not nearly as clear as it used to be, and missing almost any nuances. It didn´t look to me as if they were doing it only for the money - I got the impression that they were having good time together. Though my dissapopintment, I still had great time and surely don´t regret going, especially for floor last minute floor ticket on eBay.
REVIEWD BY BRIAN McCOY (recordnet.com):
Simon and Garfunkel took the stage Tuesday night at San Jose´s HP Pavilion in much the same way they did in the 1960s, Simon carrying an acoustic guitar under his arm, the spotlight illuminating Garfunkel´s corona of hair.
And, as in their heyday, Simon and Garfunkel began their performance with the most elemental ingredients -- two voices and one guitar, on which Simon picked out the simple chord progression that carries the melody to ´Old Friends.´
Why, then, was the moment so rapturous for so many in the sold-out arena? Why was the song punctuated at one point by an unbridled ´Yeah!´ Why had thousands spent hundreds for the privilege of seeing two 62-year-old men harmonize?
Any number of answers presented themselves as the evening unfolded. There is the enduring quality of the Simon songbook, a canon overflowing with evocative lyrics, thoughtful insights, well-turned phrases and catchy pop hooks. There is nostalgia, too, an undeniably powerful force in the lives of the 40-and-older audience.
But, as with the best art -- and, dare one say, best relationships -- a reasoned, rational examination of Simon and Garfunkel´s enduring popularity only gets you so far. The true answer lies, no doubt, in the intangibles, in the wondrous alchemy that occurs when these men blend not only their voices but their personalities. To see Paul Simon in concert is to treat yourself to an evening with one of the most gifted artists rock ´n´ roll has ever produced; to see with him Art Garfunkel is to somehow transcend even that lofty height.
The duo´s current tour -- their first extended outing since 1982-83 and only the second since splitting a decade earlier -- moves tonight to Oakland Arena. Simon and Garfunkel´s Northern California swing concludes Wednesday with a date at Sacramento´s Arco Arena.
Simon and Garfunkel have dubbed their tour Old Friends, and the passing years certainly showed in their faces and frames. Clad in T-shirt and jeans, Simon made no attempt to obscure his rapidly disappearing hairline. While still lean, Garfunkel eschewed his trademark vest Tuesday for a white shirt left untucked.
In the end, the duo´s physical appearance only seemed to emphasize that while Simon and Garfunkel are mortal, their music remains timeless. The pair sang more than 20 Simon songs in their two hours on stage, sprinkling some comparatively obscure nuggets (´At the Zoo,´ ´Baby Driver´), amid their greatest hits (´Sounds Of Silence,´ ´Mrs. Robinson´) and solo selections the composer always considered Simon and Garfunkel tunes waiting to happen (´Slip Slidin´ Away,´ ´American Tune´).
After opening with a brief video that placed the act in the proper baby-boom context, the concert´s format bounced back and forth between Simon and Garfunkel alone, the duo bathed in a warm spotlight, and playing with a seven-piece band, a group of crack musicians whose lineup included legendary drummer Jim Keltner.
So it was that after ´Old Friends´ segued into ´Bookends,´ the lights dipped for a moment before the musicians ripped into a fairly edgy take on ´A Hazy Shade of Winter.´ Nearly all the songs Simon and Garfunkel performed with the band sported an arrangement at least slightly different from that of the original recording. For ´I Am A Rock,´ the heavy beat took an on even greater weight; for ´The Sounds of Silence,´ the duo dropped the folk-rock dynamics for a slower, more dramatic reading.
It can be argued, of course, that few if any in attendance were particularly mindful of the arrangements. People come to hear Simon and Garfunkel sing and, while age has certainly diminished the duo´s upper registers, both men are still quite capable of getting the job done. Indeed, there were moments when their harmonies really hit home, such as when they reached the line ´And we walked off to look for America´ in ´America´ and on the chorus of ´Scarborough Fair.´
There was also time for humor and for Simon and Garfunkel to express what the reunion means to them. Garfunkel took the lead in the latter.
´Good evening, our dear friends in San Jose,´ he said early on. ´I´m in such a good mood tonight. It took us years to get to this together, but I couldn´t be more thrilled to be here in front of you.´
Later, Garfunkel added that he and Simon met in school in 1953. ´We go back to the sixth grade, Paul and I,´ he said. ´With a few years´ interruption, it´s been a 50-year friendship.´
Simon then somewhat sardonically introduced the duo´s first recording, the minor 1957 hit ´Hey Schoolgirl.´ The song, Simon said, was he and Artie trying to sound like the Everly Brothers. At which point, who should emerge from backstage but Phil and Don Everly themselves.
It was a generous gesture on Simon and Garfunkel´s part to include their original heroes on the reunion tour. The siblings performed a mini-set of their own (´Wake Up Little Susie,´ ´All I Have To Do Is Dream,´ ´Let It Be Me´) before Simon and Garfunkel returned for ´Bye Bye Love.´
Simon and Garfunkel´s version appears on 1970´s ´Bridge Over Troubled Water,´ the duo´s final and top-selling album. Nearly every song from the disc was reproduced in concert, not only smashes like the title track (Garfunkel can still hit those high notes) and ´El Condor Pasa´ (which pointed toward the world music Simon would explore as a solo artist) but lesser-known gems, most notably ´The Only Living Boy in New York´ (which came complete with Simon explaining the song´s origins).
Simon and Garfunkel left the stage after 90 minutes before returning for an encore of ´Cecilia´ and ´The Boxer,´ the latter shorn of the extra verse Simon has performed in concert over the years. A second encore brought the pair back for an acoustic ´Leaves That Are Green´ (´The last time we did this in concert was 1967,´ Simon said) and a rousing band rendition of ´The 59th Street Bridge Song´ that did indeed leave the audience feeling groovy.
And why not? All they had been treated to over the previous two hours was two talented singers backed by a group of deft musicians performing some of most durable pop songs ever written.
Overhearing conversations on the way out of arena, however, it became clear that there was more at work. Simon and Garfunkel are old friends, yes, but not just to each other. They fill that role, too, for many of their fans, the duo´s voices and lives having interacted with their own for so long.
It is in that concept, one suspects, that you will find the ultimate answer to Simon and Garfunkel´s popularity. For die-hard fans, the songs and the men bookend their lives.
Having evidently made some kind of peace with each other, Simon and Garfunkel have freed themselves to come to terms with their shared past. In a performance punctuated by bursts of applause and standing ovations, the reunited Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel happily explored the incandescent, five- album career of their youth, something they have both have expressed mixed feelings about in the past, before a capacity crowd Tuesday at the HP Pavilion in San Jose.
The eagerly attended event represented not just a personal rapprochement between the long-estranged singing couple, but a willingness by composer Simon to embrace his sometimes callow early work, which always cast a shadow across his formidable accomplishments as a solo performer for the past 30 years.
Whatever he did, no matter how much success he experienced or how many Grammys he won, wherever he went, people wanted to hear ´The Sound of Silence´ and ´Bridge Over Troubled Water,´ a song he sat and glumly watched Garfunkel sing by himself during their 1993 Madison Square Garden reunion.
But at the HP Pavilion on Tuesday, the first of four Northern California shows on the ´Old Friends´ tour (including tonight at Oakland Arena), Simon not only joined voices on that trademark bridge (´sail on silvergirl´) beautifully, but belted out the second verse himself, plunging into the collaboration. Although he left most of the ebullient stage chatter to his partner, Simon drove the show with his trademark smoldering intensity and exquisite finger picking.
They looked utterly non-show business, Garfunkel wearing a loosely knotted necktie and untucked white shirt, Simon in jeans and T-shirt. Having dispensed with his baseball cap, Simon has gone bravely bald, and the unruly orange- colored corona that frames Art Garfunkel´s head suggests that although he may be growing older, he will not go quietly.
They share such a magnificent past. Garfunkel recalled singing together for small change on the streets of London and Paris, introducing a song they did in those performances, ´Kathy´s Song.´ They met in the sixth grade and started singing together when they were 13 years old. ´It´s been a 50-year friendship, with a few interruptions,´ Garfunkel said.
They made their first record when they were 16 years old, a frank imitation of the Everly Brothers called ´Hey Schoolgirl.´ It was a song they played briefly Tuesday before introducing surprise guests Don and Phil Everly themselves, who came out and sang ´Wake Up Little Suzie,´ ´All I Have to Do Is Dream´ and ´Let It Be Me,´ before Simon and Garfunkel rejoined them for a four- way version of the Everlys´ ´Bye Bye Love.´
The repertoire concentrated almost exclusively on Simon and Garfunkel material, with two exceptions. Garfunkel sang ´American Tune´ from Simon´s second solo album, saying he was sorry they broke up before he could record the song. Simon introduced the other one of his solo songs for the evening, ´Slip Slidin´ Away,´ by saying he always thought it would have been a good Simon and Garfunkel song.
Actually, ´Slip Slidin´ Away´ has all the dour, world-weary earmarks of a Paul Simon solo song. Once he was writing for himself as a solo artist, Simon went through some fundamental shifts in perspective. He polished smart-aleck phraseology and specialized in songs that exuded a hipster´s detachment.
But with Simon and Garfunkel, songwriter Simon was more earnest, often excruciatingly so, and more than occasionally only a bad rhyme or two away from greeting-card fodder. But the enduring quality of songs such as ´Hazy Shade of Winter,´ ´America,´ ´Homeward Bound´ and ´The Boxer´ was never more apparent than onstage in San Jose. Simon´s later brilliant work mixing world cultures into his pop music was clearly presaged in such S&G numbers as ´El Condor Pasa´ and ´Cecilia.´ He even dug out the relatively obscure ´Leaves That Are Green´ just before closing the two-hour concert with the nearly cringe-worthy crowd pleaser ´The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin´ Groovy).´
Backed by a surprisingly aggressive seven-piece band that featured drummer Jim Keltner and bassist Pino Palladino, who replaced John Entwistle on the Who tour last year, these crusty old songs snapped back to life under the tender ministrations of the sexagenarian vocalists, who have no right to sound as gorgeous as they did.
-Joel Selvin: [email protected]