Saturday 10 December 2016

Paul Simon at 3Arena: 'Music that will serve as beacon through the dark days ahead'

Paul Simon, 3Arena, Dublin

Published 22/11/2016 | 10:17

After all these years: Paul Simon's current tour is thought to be his last.
After all these years: Paul Simon's current tour is thought to be his last.

Paul Simon is one of pop’s great chameleons. As the more introspective half of Simon and Garfunkel, he crafted coffee house folk both briskly catchy and weighed down with sadness.

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A later foray into Afro-centric rock, meanwhile, was (the occasional, sitar-twanging Beatle aside) the first example of a high profile Western musician engaging with the cultural traditions of the wider world.

And so, in these troubled times, the mere act of stepping on stage felt like a powerful political statement by the deadpan New Yorker.

He, in fact, bounded on, remarkably limber for a 75-year-old, and was accompanied by a nine-piece band who conjured an irresistible pan-global groove.

Simon was in Dublin promoting an ebullient new album, Stranger To Stranger. He clearly had fun delving into the gimmicky The Werewolf and the majestically cranky Wristband (lesson: deny Simon entry to your VIP room at your peril). Yet the evening was understood to be a victory lap rather than excursion into uncharted territory and it was when he uncorked the vintage material that a worshipful audience swooned in earnest. 

The decades fell away as he dived into the jokey / serious joke 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover and vibrantly hammy You Can Call Me Al.

He topped even these moments with four encores that drew on his Simon and Garfunkel years via The Boxer, The Sound of Silence and Bridge Over Troubled Water.

Simon has hinted this may be his farewell tour. If so, he has shuffled into retirement with grace and dignity – leaving us with music that will serve as beacon through the dark days ahead

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