July 06, 2004
Simon & Garfunkel´s time capsule arrives a bit late
By Jerry Fink
LAS VEGAS SUN
# Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena.
# When: Sunday.
# Rating (out of five stars): **** 1/2
Thirty minutes late.
It was 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Simon & Garfunkel were to perform their second Las Vegas concert in a little less than eight months. The show was to begin at 8 p.m., but 30 minutes later there wasn´t a sign of the duo or their backup band -- or of the Everly Brothers, who were on the bill with them.
The semiretired siblings have been traveling with Simon & Garfunkel since S&G´s ´Old Friends´ reunion tour last year.
The tour was such a phenomenal financial success, reportedly grossing more than $60 million, that they all got together again this summer for another run at the bankroll.
As the evening wore on, without explanation -- no announcement of technical difficulties or such -- one had to wonder what was going on.
Was someone fighting?
The feuds between Simon and Garfunkel are legendary. They split in 1970, getting together occasionally for a concert. Was there new tension behind stage between these two old friends?
And the Everlys rarely even speak to each other. Did they get into an argument, delaying the curtain call?
We were left to our imaginations.
Was Simon fighting with Garfunkel, or Phil fighting with Don? Or maybe it was Simon fighting Phil and Garfunkel fighting Don, or Garfunkel against Phil and Simon against Don, or maybe it was a tag team match -- Simon & Garfunkel vs. the Everly Brothers.
Someone should have had the courtesy to at least come out and tell the almost full house who was on the card that night.
Tsk, tsk. How ironic. So much disharmony among a group of talented performers who produce such great harmony when they sing.
On the record, Simon and Garfunkel (each age 62) have mended their fences. They officially are friends again, a friendship that began in the sixth grade in Queens, N.Y.
So, while whatever was going on backstage went on, the audience began to entertain itself.
First came the wave. It started somewhere in the stands on stage right and quickly circled the arena.
After a few circles, the wave subsided and the foot stomping began, shaking the house.
Stomping gave way to clapping, which gave way to the wave again, which gave way to clapping, and finally there was the sounds of silence as everyone became bored with amusing themselves. After all, they paid good money ($78.75 to $262.50) for Saturday´s concert to see four of the country´s legendary performers. Why should fans have to provide the entertainment?
But the delay was forgiven and quickly forgotten as soon as the video on the big screen began, showing scenes from Simon and Garfunkel´s childhood and progressing through their career together. Since that career was relatively brief, the video also included a lot of scenes from the ´60s.
Simon & Garfunkel were among the premier pop-folk artists of the decade. They were an enigma, a successful duo singing meaningful, profound, poetic lyrics when the rock world was being inundated with simplistic songs and music that assaulted the senses.
Their prominence came at a time when the nation was at war; folks screamed about the loss of freedom of speech and about the state of the economy and the lack of political leadership.
It seems like only yesterday we were reading headlines about those issues. Come to think of it, maybe it was yesterday, which just proves that what goes around comes around.
Which brings us back to Simon & Garfunkel, who last year stepped out of their time capsule and began serenading their fans again with their thoughtful songs.
Saturday´s concert was not drastically different from their concert in November.
A couple of songs were swapped out; Garfunkel seemed more eager to be onstage; the Everly Brothers didn´t play as prominent a role; and Simon & Garfunkel were more in sync.
But the structure of the concert was the same, even their pausing to relate how they met in elementary school and how the Everly Brothers inspired them.
They again opened with ´Old Friends,´ followed by ´A Hazy Shade of Winter´ ´I Am a Rock,´ ´America´ and ´At the Zoo.´
After ´Baby Driver´ and ´Kathy´s Song´ the Everly Brothers came onstage to thunderous applause and sang ´Wake Up Little Suzy,´ ´All I Have to Do Is Dream´ and ´Let It Be Me.´
The brothers and Simon & Garfunkel sang ´Bye Bye Love´ together and left the stage to a standing ovation. Simon & Garfunkel then continued their songfest of hits with such classics as ´Scarborough Fair,´ ´Homeward Bound,´ ´Sounds of Silence,´ ´Slip Slidin´ Away,´ ´El Condor Pasa,´ ´Keep the Customer Satisfied´ and ´Mrs. Robinson.´
Although age has softened the sharpness of their voices, the two can still do justice to the many great songs they created and performed decades ago.
They closed the main portion of the show with ´Bridge Over Troubled Water´ but returned for two encores, singing such favorites as ´Celia´ and ´The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin´ Groovy).´
After two hours, it seemed as if once you got the pair onstage, you couldn´t get them to leave, much to the pleasure of their thousands of fans at the Grand Garden Arena.