Simon & Garfunkel - concert review (Staples Center) - November 17, 2003

While I don't profess to be the biggest or most knowledgeable fan of Simon & Garfunkel, I've always enjoyed their work as well as the solo efforts of Paul Simon, so when it was announced that they would be touring together, I was interested in seeing them.

They were in the middle of their "Old Friends" concert tour which covered various U.S. cities from mid-October through mid-December 2003 and were scheduled to play Staples Center on November 17 and 18.

The sold-out concert was supposed to start at 8pm, but the concert didn't actually start until about 8:30pm.  The crowd was very excited when the lights went down, and Simon & Garfunkel's arrival on stage was met with thunderous applause and cheers.

The set list as indicated on the official website was as follows:

Old Friends/Bookends

A Haze Shade of Winter

I Am a Rock


At the Zoo

Baby Driver

Kathy's Song

Hey, Schoolgirl


(Everly Brothers set list)

Wake Up Little Susie


Let It Be Me

Bye Bye Love (with Simon & Garfunkel)


Scarborough Fair

Homeward Bound

The Sound of Silence

Mrs. Robinson

Slip Slidin' Away

El Condor Pass (If I Could)

Keep the Customer Satisfied

The Only Living Boy in New York

American Tune


My Little Town

Bridge Over Troubled  Waters


The Boxer

Song for the Asking

The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)


The most amazing thing for me was how much the two of them still sound so much like they did on their recordings of the songs we all know so well.  20 and even 30 years later, their voices haven't changed all that much.  Sure, there were a few songs that were orchestrated a bit differently to tone down the range a bit, and there were a few times when one or the other didn't quite hit the intended note, but all in all, it was about as close as you could get to just having someone play the records over the loudspeakers.  As is probably not surprising, the audience skewed older, though I did see some younger people in the audience.  A concert like this in Los Angeles inevitably brings out the celebrities.  I've heard of a number of them in attendance, and my husband saw Jack Nicholson leaving the arena and stopping to sign a few autographs.

The stage was fairly simple except for a slightly elaborate "tree" of lights on the stage.  Over the stage, there was a screen on which were projected various videos as well as live coverage of the stage.  We had a pretty good view of the stage, being seated just left of center on the riser level of the floor, but the screen still came in pretty handy to be able to see them better.  Simon & Garfunkel were backed up by a few musicians that I didn't recognize.  The concert started with a montage on the screen of various pictures of each of them individually and together over the years.

Some of the highlights of the show for me:

Art Garfunkel told the story of how the two of them had met in sixth grade in a production of "Alice in Wonderland".  Paul had been cast as the White Rabbit, and Art had been cast as the Cheshire Cat.  The two of them have been performing together for 50 years.  Paul Simon then took over the story about how they started to argue shortly after they became friends, so joked that they've been arguing for 47 years.  Paul mentioned the first song that the two of them sang together, and then they segued into "Hey, Schoolgirl".  While listening to the song, I noted how much the melody and singing style reminded me of the Everly Brothers.  Turns out that was with good reason.  Paul went on to say that they had very much been influenced by the Everly Brothers, which was why they were so pleased to have the Everly Brothers as part of the tour.  At this point, Don and Phil Everly took the stage to perform a few of their songs.  It was almost kinda surreal to be sitting there listening to them singing "Wake Up Little Susie".  They did a fantastic job.  It was even more incredible when Paul and Art joined Don and Phil on stage for "Bye Bye Love", with Paul and Art duoing on the second verse.  You could really see how much of a treat this was for the two of them.

One of the most spectacular moments for me was when they sang "The Sounds of Silence".  Except for a bit more orchestration in the middle of the song, it was a very toned down version, with just Paul on guitar, and Paul's and Art's voices very clearly audible.  It's always been a song that I've loved, but this version was just incredible.  There was quite a bit of professional videotaping during the concert, so I'm very much hoping that they'll be releasing at least a CD version of the concert.  I would love to have this version of the song available to listen to.

One of the other incredible moments was when Paul mentioned that sometimes when he was working on his solo work, some of the songs just seemed like they'd be perfect Simon & Garfunkel material.  They then sang a version of Paul Simon's "Slip Slidin' Away" where they split up the song.  As much as I've always liked Paul's version of the songs, having Art sing some of the lead was really cool, and it very much fit into what is the Simon & Garfunkel style.  Again, would love to have this available on CD.

With the encores, the concert ran until about 11pm.  I am definitely happy that I was able to see them and definitely recommend anyone interested to go.



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