Paul Simon kicked off the itunes festival last week, a month of free gigs at London’s Roundhouse, featuring 60 artists from the 1st to the 31st july including Coldplay, Foo Fighters, Adele, Kasabian and Arctic Monkeys. 3,300 crammed into the Camden venue for free, leaving security to deal with hoards of unlucky fans at the door.
Earlier in the week Simon was forced to cancel a sell out show at Bournemouth International Centre and postpone a show at the Hammersmith Apollo due to “a respiratory and throat problem” leaving the remainder of his six-show UK tour jeopardised. Despite the illness, The 69 year old did not fail to please the jostling crowd, disparate as it was. Hipsters and trendoids riddled with iphones and constant chatter next to 40/50 somethings simultaneously shushing and singing along in rapturous nostalgia.
Alongside the folk resurgence in recent years Rhymin’ Simon has benefitted from something of a style revival. Vampire Weekend based their entire sound on Graceland, musicians seem to be constantly slipping ‘You Can Call Me Al’ in to jams and encores and covers are trickling out; Notably The Tallest Man On Earth and Noah and the Whale, reigniting interested from the younger scene.
‘Every generation throws a hero up the pop charts’ he sings. 25 years have passed since Graceland was released, listed by Rolling Stones, Pitchforkmedia, Time AcclaimedMusic and Q magazine as one of the best albums of all time. It’s etched into the hearts of generations and his music will speak to generations to come. There’s undeniably something very special about that.
The two hour set showcased songs from Simon’s new album So Beautiful or So What, alongside renditions of classics from across his illustrious career, focusing mostly on his solo work with a few covers thrown in. His new songs have lost non of his word-smithery and charm but memory is a harsh critic and fans certainly favoured his classics
The delicate warmth of The Only Living Boy in New York (Simon & Garfunkel) elicited ecstatic applause from the audience. Diamonds on the soles of her shoes and gumboots finished off the first set, sending the crowd in to a frenzied strange dance.
The Sound Of Silence (S&G) started the first encore, followed by Kodachrome, The Boy in the Bubble and a rendition of Here Comes the Sun (Beatles). For a man of so many fine words, he left the audience with very few – just the obligatory amount of hello’s and thank you’s but he was nonetheless ridiculously endearing. He finished the second encore with Still Crazy After All These Years and the catchy bass and brass of the all time favourite, You Can Call Me Al, Singing of universal sentiments in return for whistles, stamps and screams from the crowd.
Asking other punters around what they like best about Paul Simon, their answers all echo each other. His voice, so familiar and distinct after all these years, his acoustic guitar skills and his writing, all standing up to the test of time.