Review: Simon & Garfunkel tightknit in show at AAC
12:17 AM CDT on Friday, July 9, 2004
By THOR CHRISTENSEN / The Dallas Morning News
Not bad for a couple of guys in their 60s singing songs they made famous in their 20s.
Thursday night at American Airlines Center, Art Garfunkel chalked up the enduring charm of Simon & Garfunkel by saying, ´It´s very easy to sing when the songs are this good.´ But, in reality, it wasn´t Paul Simon´s tunes that made the concert work but the effortless way the duo sang them.
Much has been written about the pair´s on-again, off-again friendship, but the real story is how incredibly well their voices still mesh in ´Cecilia,´ ´The Sounds of Silence´ and ´Mrs. Robinson.´ Harmonizing is a tricky science that gets even tougher as vocal chords age, as Mr. Simon and Bob Dylan proved with some disastrous duets on tour in 1999.
But these ´Old Friends´ -- to borrow the title of the opening song -- were in fine voice and perfect sync for most of the two-hour greatest-hits show. With top tickets priced at a whopping $225, the walk down memory lane was one of the priciest ones in rock history: Bring your spouse and buy a T-shirt and you´ve just burned a half-grand.
Yet, to Simon and Garfunkel´s credit, the nostalgia wasn´t entirely predictable. Granted, you could bet the Lexus that ´Bridge Over Troubled Water´ and ´The Boxer´ were going to be the big set enders. But there were some pleasant surprises, too, like the jazzy, extended version of ´Homeward Bound,´ the rocked-up arrangement of ´My Little Town´ and an Afro-Latinized ´Mrs. Robinson.´
Mr. Garfunkel looked pretty much the same as always -- except that his shock of blond hair has acquired a strange orange hue -- and his high tenor was as angelic as ever on ´Scarborough Fair´ and ´Kathy´s Song.´ Mr. Simon, having dispensed with the toupee and the baseball cap, looked his age but didn´t always act it. Striking gunslinger poses with his acoustic guitar, he still seemed like the kid from Queens emulating his heroes, the Everly Brothers.
Then, just like magic, he mentioned their name and there they were: Phil and Don Everly, old enough for Social Security but still sounding glorious on ´Wake Up Little Susie,´ ´Dreams´ and ´Bye Bye Love,´ which they sang with help from their slightly younger protÃ©gÃ©s.
Earlier, Simon and Garfunkel trotted out ´Hey, School Girl,´ the Everly-style song they began their career with in 1957. The two actually met in 1954, when they were 12, and as Mr. Garfunkel explained, they´re celebrating the 50th anniversary of their friendship this year.
But, as usual, Mr. Simon got the last word: ´Actually, we started to sing when we were 13, and we started to argue when we were 14, making this the 48th anniversary.´
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It was an awesome concert. It started somewhat later than it was supposed to, and did not open with the Everly brothers, so i assumed that they were not going to be playing, but then Mr Simon introduced them, and after the brothers played two of their own songs, they performed ´Bye Bye Love´ with Messrs Garfunkel and Simon. My personal favourite was ´El Condor Pasa´, which i did not at all expect them to play, given that Los Incas were not in attendance. Good show!
OK, I´ll admit I would rather see a solo Paul Simon show, if only for a chance to hear songs I have more of an emotional attachment to (I was 2 when S&G broke up). The $215 price tag for two tickets and parking was a little steep IMO.
Was it worth it?
I´ve been known to judge concerts by how many times I am moved to tears. Well, at this show, no fewer than 5, and a couple of those times I was practically bawling.
The set list was the same as other cities, and they did not perform their new song ´Citizen of the World´. Some of the arrangements were similar to the way Simon has been performing them in recent years (i.e. ´Ms. Robinson´, I am a Rock´), and the added instrumentation at the end of Homeward Bound was exquisite. Other songs such as´America´ were played almost note for note right down to the bass and drums, while ´Hazy Shade of Winter´ sounded closer to the Bangles´ re-make than the original. However, it was lesser known songs such as ´Kathy´s Song´ and ´The Only Living Boy in NY´ that made the show IMO.
Some of S&G´s songs have held up over the years as ´Timeless´, others have not. There are lines such as ´when I think of the road we´re travelling on, I wonder what´s gone wrong´ that, in the context of a post 9/11 world, COULD have been written yesterday. But, let´s face it- ´The 59th Street Bridge Song´ is a horribly dated ditty and would only sound like it was written yesterday if you´ve been in a coma for the last, say, 35 to 40 years. However, they played it as the closing number, and they had fun with it (even taking an instrumental detour through the theme to ´Jaws´), so who cares if it´s dated or not. It felt, well, GROOVY!
Both Paul and Art´s voices were in fine form regardless of age, and Paul´s taking of the second verse of ´Bridge Over Troubled Water´ held up surprisingly well to Art. A fine group of musicians made up the band, including multi-instumentalist Mark Stewart (touring and recording with Paul since ´99) who enhanced ´Scarborough Faire´ by playing the second vocal part on the Cello.
What can I say- even we Pagans have to go to Mass once in a while!