They might be famous for their squabbles offstage. But on stage, there was nothing but love in the air at Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel´s show at Pepsi Center on Thursday night.
The folk-rock duo appeared genuinely happy to be together again for their 36-city ´Old Friends´ tour, their first in twenty years. Having seemingly discovered that they´re better together than apart, they served as tour guides through memory lane for an unabashedly nostalgic evening.
The two-hour set began with a brief video montage on a suspended big screen juxtaposing scenes from their career with footage of world events of the past half-century. When the stage lights came up, the pair opened with ´Old Friends,´ a reminder that their friendship, turbulent at times, dates back to childhood. The line ´How terribly strange to be 70´ drew knowing laughter from the multi-generational crowd - Simon turned 62 this month, Garfunkel will hit that mark in a week.
They wasted no time in launching into some of their best-known standards. There may have been a few cracks in the singing of ´A Hazy Shade Of Winter´ and an otherwise powerful ´I Am A Rock,´ but they found a groove by ´America´ and a grafting of ´At The Zoo´ with ´Baby Driver.´ Garfunkel said the two met in the sixth grade circa 1953 - ´And it occurs to me that it´s been 50 years of this thing we do.´
Their repartee turned playful when Garfunkel introduced ´Kathy´s Song´ by describing their post-college days busking as street musicians in London´s Leicester Square. He reacted to a shout from the front rows. ´I love you Paul?!´ he cried in mock indignation. A smiling Simon assuaged him by leading the crowd in a serenade of ´I love you Artie.´
That seemed to loosen them up. ´We started singing when we were 13, started arguing when we were 14,´ Simon deadpanned as they offered a snippet of ´Hey Schoolgirl,´ recorded when they were 16 and known as Tom & Jerry. Simon admitted to lifting the lyric from Gene Vincent´s ´Be-Bop-A-Lula.´
But the sound, he said, came from their ´heroes,´ the Everly Brothers. They proved the point by bringing on Don and Phil Everly and wowing the fans. The Everlys sang three of their classics - ´Wake Up Little Susie,´ ´All I Have To Do Is Dream´ and a gorgeous ´Let It Be Me´ - before their hosts joined them for a harmony-stuffed version of ´Bye Bye Love.´
A hit parade of famous tunes followed - ´Scarborough Fair,´ ´Homeward Bound,´ ´The Sound of Silence,´ ´Mrs. Robinson,´ ´El Condor Pasa´ and ´Keep The Customer Satisfied.´
A few of Simon´s solo songs were also performed. As he introduced ´Slip Sliding Away,´ he told the crowd, ´There were times after we broke up when I thought, this would have been a good Simon and Garfunkel song.´ He said he wrote ´The Only Living Boy In New York´ when Garfunkel was in Mexico filming ´Catch-22´ Garfunkel helped sing ´American Tune.´
A joyous arrangement of ´My Little Town´ was crafted with the help of the duo´s seven-piece band. Then came the undisputed highlight - Garfunkel nailed the high note ending ´Bridge Over Troubled Water´ with perfect clarity, bringing the crowd to its feet. Encores of ´Cecilia,´ ´The Boxer´ and ´The 59th Street Bridge Song´ left everyone, well, feeling groovy.
In this day of mush-mouthed rappers and shrieking divas, two-part vocal harmony might seem like a lost art. Simon and Garfunkel´s well-acquainted voices may have taken a few songs to settle in, but when they locked together, the results were the most resonant moments of any reunion show this year.
-By G. Brown, Denver Post Popular Music