Tuesday, May 10, 2011
When I heard about Paul Simon's new tour I immediately e-mailed my wife. "Wanna go see Paul Simon?" "YES!" was her response, so I ordered the tickets. They were for the 2nd balcony, but dead centre at Massey Hall, and we all know there are no bad seats at Massey Hall. Well okay, there are a few obstructed view spots but generally everything is good. Well, I had an obstructed view, not because of the construction of the building but due instead to the giant bobblehead on the guy in front of me. I don't think I've ever seen anyone move his head quite so much as this guy, and what a head it was! And his girlfriend never stopped talking to him, or to her friend seated next to Bighead. Very distracting.
But to the music...it was exquisite. Simon led an 8-piece band in a career spanning two and one half hour show. It never stopped!
"Crazy Love, vol.2" started things off followed by "Dazzling Blue" (from the new album), then "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" and the title track "So Beautiful or So What". And if you were looking for surprises, well how about Jimmy Cliff's "Vietnam" which was the inspiration for "Mother & Child Reunion" or a medley of "Mystery Train" and Chet Atkins' "Wheels" before the new tune "Rewrite". Virtually no part of his career was left untouched (well, to be fair he didn't do Tom & Jerry's "Hey Schoolgirl") as Simon included "The Only Living Boy In New York" and "The Sound of Silence" from the Garfunkel days.
He has a strangely gentle (almost girlish) presence on stage. His hands, when not wrapped around a guitar, flow hither and yon lending a Piaf-like air to his performance. His voice was a bit ragged, he's been suffering from a cold, but apart from marking a few high notes, he hit everything he aimed at! As J-Lo told the wannabes on American Idol "You're a professional, you don't have to hit those notes! You have a 2 hour show to give." And Paul Simon is a consumate professional.
The band was terrific, many of the players doubling on instruments, they reproduced the crystalline sound of his CDs beautifully.
A stunning night, that ended, after two encores, with a long ovation for a true American legend.