Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Well-Told Story at D.A.R.

Paul Simon has always been a phenomenal story teller. The beautiful simplicity of his lyrics has always painted real-life with the vivid colors of love and individuality. And his concert at D.A.R. was just that; a well-told story. Admittedly, after the first 40 minutes, I was having horrific déjà-vu sessions of a Matisyahu concert where 80% of the songs played were tracks I had never heard before (and with good reason), but I never should have doubted Paul. He was merely laying the groundwork, simply working the plot, for what would become just another one of his engaging stories.

Simon started out with an incredibly sweet rendition of Crazy Love that got the audience on their feet from the very beginning. However, from there, he lulled them back to their chairs, essentially gathering the crowd around him as he wove his tale, explaining the details of his story with the impossible pure voice and fluid guitar he is so deservedly famous for.

Indeed, the crowd was reverential. Even after a somewhat underwhelming “hit-free” first segment, the masses worshipped Simon. Despite his little stage presence, Simon was able to keep the audience captivated. His one interaction with the fans was a short one- when he mentioned that he remembered coming to D.A.R. before with “Art”- which drew a huge applause. After each encore (there were two), as Simon was leaving the stage, he encountered swarms of fans holding their hands out wanting to touch the legend. And in a moment of pure class, he shook each and every hand, stopping to say a word or two to fans. Though simple, fragile moments like these, one got the sense that Simon was an intensely likable character.

After an hour of suspense, Simon rewarded the crowd for their patience with a sparkling rendition of The Only Living Boy in NY which didn’t want for Garfunkle one bit. With his guitarist and bassist, Simon intertwined the angelic “ah ah ah” with spectacular awe-inspiring harmony. From there, it was a whirlwind of brilliance that provided a fitting testimony to a career spanning half a century. Additional highlights included Hearts and Bones, the Obvious Child, Mother and Child Reunion, Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes. Other brilliant songs included were Sounds of Silence (the first encore song, to terrific applause), Koda Chrome (to which the author screamed like a little girl to), and Here Comes the Sun.

Like any good story, Paul Simon threw in a wholly unexpected plot twist. This came in the form of a twin Paul’s impromptu performance.

Let me explain…The band played the famous opening notes of Gumboots and the crowd roared with anticipation; however, shockingly, Paul Simon missed his vocal cue. He apologized to the audience (who commiserated with his senior moment as the average audience member received Medicare), and invited 42 year old patent lawyer Paul Fournier onstage to perform instead. And in the night’s brilliant climax, Paul Fournier not only performed Gumboots, but performed it spectacularly; as a well seasoned pro. Fournier kept motioning for Simon to take over, but Simon stood back, smiled sagely, and politely declined. So Fournier continued, nailing lyric after lyric, and before one knew it, the song was over, and so was the night, and D.A.R. erupted in an ear-splitting applause. With a trophy case so overstuffed, Simon didn’t even need the spot-light. Like a true story teller, he was more than satisfied if the story itself reached the audience’s ears; his involvement irrelevant. And it is a story I’ll be telling my grandkids.

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