Friday, 27 July 2018

Paul Simon

11th July 2018

Glasgow Hydro

"The Farewell Tour", this jaunt was being proclaimed.  Having heard such proclamations in the past from a number of artistes, I could be excused perhaps if I were a touch skeptical here.  But on this occasion, it did feel like the real deal.  It was not Simon's vintage - 76, now - nor the fact his voice is undoubtedly showing it's age (also 76 !).  But it was rather the fact that, so he told us, he was looking forward with genuine anticipation and enthusiasm to doing "other things", which helped convince me this was in all likelihood the last time PS would be setting foot upon a stage in Caledonia.  Quite what these "other things" were, we were not, however, enlightened.

If this was to be his swansong tour, he certainly did not rest upon his extensive laurels - Simon choosing to perform songs from throughout his lengthy career; including a few, I am sure, no-one but the Simon-obsessives in the venue tonight would have been familiar with.  Of course, a number of biggies were present, but we really were treated to quite an eclectic bunch of tunes.

Perhaps none more so than during the short interlude where Paul was joined onstage by a compact six-piece mini- orchestra to perform what is undoubtedly his weirdest titled composition: Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War, which he followed up with Can't Run But from that underrated Rhythm of The Saints album.  There was also, perhaps surprisingly, a trio of songs from his 2011 collection So Beautiful or So What, the pick of the three being the beautifully plaintive Questions For the Angels, which closed with the intriguing rhetorical question:

"If every human on the planet
And all the buildings on it should disappear
Would a zebra grazing in the African Savannah
Care enough to share one zebra tear?"

And whilst it was his Garfunkel era tunes which, inevitably, were most warmly welcomed this evening, those which really brought the place alive were the selection from the Graceland album.

By slowing down and extending the intro to Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes, Simon and his impressive band effortlessly built the musical tension inside the cavernous Hydro until Mark Stewart's mbaqanga guitar break heralded in a bout of joyous jigging the likes of which I have rarely encountered at any gig. 
But it was those final five songs which made up the second  encore which confirmed, if any of us with any duplicity of brain cells needed convincing, that we were in the presence of one of the towering songwriters of the 20th Century.

And probably for the final time.

The Glasgow Hydro

Paul Simon - Glasgow 2018

The small orchestra backing Paul on Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War

Paul Simon - Glasgow 2018


50 Ways to Leave Your Lover
The Boy in the Bubble
Dazzling Blue
That Was Your Mother
Mother and Child Reunion
Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard
Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War
Can't Run But
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Spirit Voices
The Obvious Child
Questions for the Angels
The Cool, Cool River
Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes
You Can Call Me Al

Late in the Evening
Still Crazy After All These Years

Encore 2:
Homeward Bound
The Boxer
American Tune
The Sound of Silence

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