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October 10, 2006 - USA / Colorado
Denver - Magness Arena
The band (not all members are present at all shows)
Vincent Nguini - Guitar
Bakithi Kumalo - Bass
Steve Gadd - Drums
Mark Stewart - Guitars, Cello, Saxophone, selfmade instruments
Robin diMaggio - Drums, percussion
Tony Cedras - Accordeon, Keyboard, Guitars
Andy Snitzer - Saxophone, Synthesizer
Harper Simon - Guitar
Adrian Simon - Keyboards
Fans who attended this show
Paul Simon wrote the words Ä«Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance,Ä« almost 25 years ago and last night at Magness Arena I felt for a time that he had foreshadowed his own career. When the band dusted off this old favorite for one of itÄ«s only recent performances about a third of the way through the evening, I have to admit that I was a bit unhappy with the show. I was second guessing my great memories of the 3 other times I had seen Simon, and feeling like IÄ«d Ä«been hadÄ« by my own memory. Like loving the sound of a a train in the distance but being horrified by itÄ«s thunderous roar as it rushes by you, had I romanticized my other Paul Simon experiences? At that point in the show I had to say Ä«yes.Ä«
Let me recap what led me to that conclusion. The show opened with what should have been a powerful one-two punch of Ä«GumbootsÄ« and Ä«The Boy in BubbleÄ« off of SimonÄ«s 1988 masterpiece Graceland. However, the band seemed flat, no one in the audience had any energy at all, and quite frankly I blame all this on the fact that the sound couldnÄ«t have been worse. SimonÄ«s voice was hidden under layers of reverb and echos and you couldnÄ«t tell the keyboards from the guitars. This is what a sound check is for gentelmen! Fix the problems before the band takes the stage and if you do have to do a little tweaking (as is expected) do it right away during the first verse of the first song. It shouldnÄ«t take 3 or 4 songs to get sound issues ironed out. I assume Simon is travelling with a profession sound crew and not hiring kids from local garage bands to do his sound. Bad sound may be a pet peeve of mine, but if I am paying $80 to see a concert I fully expect the sound to be, at worst, tolerable.
It wasnÄ«t until about 4 songs into the set, as the instantly recognizable drums of Ä«50 Ways To Leave Your LoverÄ« broke through the wall of the mud that was the soundstage at this point, that the audience showed any signs of life. This was the beginning of a long road up for Simon and his band as they tried to climb out of the deep hole the sound crew tossed them into.
A veteran performer it was clear that Simon was up to the challenge and he was going to do his best to win over even the harshest critics in the crowd. They really seemed to feed of the energy that the crowd was starting to show and really got things going when they took us back to the 50Ä«s for a old time rock-n-roll version of the classic Ä«Me & Julio Down By the Schoolyard.Ä«
With the sound problems finally fixed (for the most part) and the crowdÄ«s energy level rejuvenated I began to remember why I shelled out my $80 to see him again. The first highlight of the night came a little before the halfway mark when the first few notes of Ä«DuncanÄ« rang out. Always one of my very favorite Paul Simon songs, it was a thrill to see him perform it live. Lyrics like Ä«Holes in my confidence, holes in the knees of my jeans,Ä« and Ä«well I told her I was lost and she told me all about the Pentecost,Ä« have been burned into my memory since I was in middle school. Ä«DuncanÄ« is, in my opinion, one of SimonÄ«s most well written songs. The genius of making up words like Ä«destitutedÄ« to suit his purpose and rhyming Ä«hock itÄ« with Ä«pocket,Ä« are marks of a truly creative soul.
Ä«Outrageous,Ä« Ä«How Can You Live In The NortheastÄ« and the solo encore of Ä«Wartime Prayers.Ä« were the three songs that Simon chose to weave into the set from his most recent effort Surprise. There were a few cheers for the new numbers but sadly they largely served as opportunities to run to the bathroom for most people. Simon has an established and well loved catalogue of music and unfortunately most of his fans just arenÄ«t at a point in their lives where they are broadening their horizons anymore. Surprise is an album that shows the youth of SimonÄ«s mind and his love for music. He has been reinventing his sound for decades and his reliance on the ambient soundscapes created by Brian Eno on the new album yeild truly rewarding results that proves he is still the musician he was all those years ago.
Simon reinvented a couple of his old favorites throughout the night both intentionally and unintentionally. He dumbfounded most of the capacity crowd when his band turned up their amps and rocked through the coda to Ä«Bridge Over Troubled WaterÄ« and a fantastic new arrangement of Ä«Diamonds on the Soles of her ShoesÄ« brought the crowd to their feet to close set that steadily gotten better for me. On the unintentional side, both Lindsay and I noted that he often seemed to come in early or late causing him to alter the phrasing on many of his songs. New arrangements of older tracks I understand and respect, but outstanding phrasing is one of the many things that have made Simon one of the best songwriters of the last 100 years. Maybe 30 years of singing the same songs is taking itÄ«s toll.
In perhaps his most moving and spot on performance of the night Simon wowed the crowd with a stellar rendition of Ä«The Only Living Boy In New York.Ä« I recently read that Simon introduced the song this summer in Connecticut by saying that he had forgotten about it until he recently saw Garden State. He didnÄ«t introduce it to us that way, and in fact he spoke very little from the stage the entire evening, but maybe the freshness of the song in his mind brought him back to a time when it was new to him. Back to a time when he sang it with the passion that one has when they are knee deep in the creative process.
Though he wasnÄ«t very personable from his perch up there on the stage, and he may not have nailed every song, it was a hell of an evening. Simon is a legend for so many reasons and there is something about being in the presence of greatness, even if it isnÄ«t as great as it once was. To use his words Ä«oh, what a night, oh what a garden of delight, even now that sweet memory lingers,Ä« and it will linger for years to come and next time Simon comes to town IÄ«ll be in line early to get my tickets. Maybe heÄ«ll become the train in the distance that he wrote about 25 years ago but along the way heÄ«s helped to make some wonderful memories.
I saw Paul Simon in August at Lake Tahoe and I was very DISAPPOINTED...He looked tired and bored by the whole thing...It is honorable that he tours for his fans, but the audience didnÄ«t respect him and he didnÄ«t rise to the occasion...The audience was embarrassing because they didnÄ«t have any energy, but he didnÄ«t either...His band was below par...However, heÄ«s still Paul Simon and I love his music...I feel like he would do better if he only did a few concerts a year at bigger venues....I worry that heÄ«s not feeling well physically and mentally..You get this sense that something is wrong in his life...He didnÄ«t even say hello to the audience nor a good bye which made me sad because I love to hear his voice and he owes it to his audience to thank them and greet them...
This was my first time seeing Paul live (well, solo - I saw Simon and Garfunkel in Ä«03 or whenever it was). I have to say, I enjoyed it thoroughly. The set list was excellent and the musicianship impeccable (as it always is with PaulÄ«s bands...especially when Steve Gadd is on drums.) I donÄ«t know where the first reviewer was sitting, but where I was the sound was decent. Not the best IÄ«ve seen in that venue, but good considering that itÄ«s a wierdly shaped, hockey-specific arena. I agree that the crowd could have showed more energy at first, but they woke up for some of the biggies. Besides, to me itÄ«s the music alone that makes or breaks a show. I donÄ«t care what other people do with their time and money - IÄ«M going to enjoy myself. And I definately did that.
I think the best part for me, speaking as a musician, was the way Paul rearranged some of the songs. The half-time feel on Ä«Boy in the BubbleÄ« was really cool and I loved the groove they put behind Ä«Bridge Over Troubled Water.Ä« Closing with The Boxer might not have been the best choice. As much as I love Jerry Douglas, his help wasnÄ«t enough to make this a closer. I like leaving shows after something that grooves harder (i.e. Ä«Late in the EveningÄ«). But that was my biggest problem with the night. Song selection was great: 4 or 5 off of Graceland, 5 S&G tunes (including one of my all-time favorite Paul Simon compositions in Ä«The Only Living Boy in New YorkÄ«), some new stuff, a rarity or 2 (as mentioned in earlier reviews), and all the classics (Ä«50 WaysÄ«, etc.).
The musicianship: Steve Gadd was in top form all night (they donÄ«t call him Ä«Father TimeÄ« for nothing) and I really appreciate how Paul has adapted his melodies to fit his voice as heÄ«s aged (i.e. not hitting the high note in the chorus of Ä«Me and Julio...Ä« is smart - better to go down than to try and hit that note and screw it up.) He just doesnÄ«t have that range anymore, but despite the loss of the high end of his register, he sounds phenominal. The horn players were decent. Heard a few cracked notes, but overall it was good. And the sax solo on Ä«Still Crazy...Ä« was 100% pure cheese baby-making music. Classic.
Overall, a very strong show from the band.
I have seen Steely Dan, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen all this year and this show was better than all of them. Well the Seeger sessions was pretty dam good. The sound was straightened out by the third song and the show was great. The problem is the lame energy from all the old timers wishing they were back in the early 60Ä«s listening some acoustic Simon and Garfunkel and complaining about how much the ticket was and how late its was on a Tuesday night. This is why he has to play 4 encores, in order to create a sense of urgency with the crowd. Paul played to the crowds energy. The band sounded great and I really liked how they re-worked some of the classics. Mrs. Robinson with Jerry Douglas was amazing, that guy is a master of his trade. My highlight would have to be Wartime prayers. I have his new album and I pretty much skip by that song but after Tuesday night that might be my new favorite. As he always has done, Paul has captured the pulse of our culture right now in this song!
To all the old timers who were complaining about us standing and dancing: Ä«WhoÄ«s gone a love ya when your looks are gone!Ä«
Three days later and IÄ«m still rockinÄ« from TuesdayÄ«s concert! My first time @Magnus Arena and I must say I appreciated the smaller venue and enjoyed the show 100%. I canÄ«t think of a better singer/songwriter, NO exceptions! We love you Paul! And Happy Birthday today!
Paul played beautifully, a great mix of old and new songs. I have never witnessed four encores within a single concert. Paul led his band back for each one and completed the concert with his heart felt thanks and his comments of how he enjoyed the night as much as we did. This was one of my favorite concerts of all time. I hope he returns to Denver soon!