VICAR STREET, DUBLIN
There's been a rare handful of nights when bona fide stadium-filling superstars have thread the Vicar St boards, namely Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Justin Timberlake. Paul Simon is the latest icon to perform to a lucky few who've managed to secure one of the Willy Wonka Golden Tickets.
Kicking off shortly after 8pm with the unmistakable accordion intro of 'The Boy in the Bubble', Simon and his eight-piece backing band mesmerise straight from the off. The man who truly defines the phrase 'pint-sized legend' keeps the audience enraptured for more than two hours, displaying remarkable energy and vigour for a man who turns 70 this October.
The set list is a perfectly pitched mix of classics such as '50 Ways to Leave Your Lover' and picks from the brand new album So Beautiful Or So What. Contrary to the customary norm, some of the new material actually proves the most rewarding. So Beautiful Or So What has been hailed as his best album since Graceland in 1986 or, rather pompously, "a new masterpiece from the Picasso of music."
A cover of 'Vietnam' by Jimmy Cliff is gorgeously segued into 'Mother and Child Reunion'. The sound system doesn't appear to be firing on cylinders and one suspects it might still be recovering after the noise assault of Nick Cave's Grinderman over the weekend. Thankfully, it does little to diminish the quality of Simon's superb cast and impeccable musicianship.
The gems flow thick and fast in the encore set with priceless renditions of 'Sounds of Silence,' 'Late in the Evening' and a brilliant cover of the evergreen Beatles favourite 'Here Comes the Sun'.
His parting glass is a highly appropriate choice. Like the song itself, the songwriting genius that's called Paul Simon is still crazy after all these years.