Gig review: Simon and Garfunkel in Auckland

STILL MAGIC: Simon and Garfunkel, pictured in a 2004 performance, opened their Australasian tour in Auckland with a spine-tingling show.
STILL MAGIC: Simon and Garfunkel, pictured in a 2004 performance, opened their Australasian tour in Auckland with a spine-tingling show.

Simon and Garfunkel warmed the hearts of fans with a flawless perfomance of a generous selection of their hits in Auckland. Jeremy Redmore was there.

Simon and Garfunkel
Vector Arena
When: Saturday, June 13

Paul Simon said it was a show he would always remember, the first of his Australasian tour with his oldest friend Art Garfunkel at Auckland's Vector Arena providing a magical memory in the untold annals of his mind.

Having not played a full show as a duo in New Zealand since 1983 and not on a world scale since 2004, the pair returned to action with an almost flawless display - the only hiccup becoming one of marvel.

As the front-of-house PA failed halfway through Bridge Over Troubled Water the crowd almost unanimously picked up where the song left off, a resounding chorus filling what would have been an awkward silence.

The almost ageless twosome bookended themselves whilst providing an entertaining night of nostalgia in which each artist played solo material within a set of the duo's long list of hits.

Megascreens lit up the audience to start the show, a brief film containing footage and photos from the past 50 years illustrated the history the act shares, before they took the stage alone to perform Old Friends/Bookends.

Two perfectly unique and unmistakable voices then melted together and plenty of spines were almost immediately chilled.

A seven-piece band, packed with incredible talent, joined the two main events to help crank out America, Scarborough Fair, Homeward Bound, Sound of Silence, Mrs Robinson and El Condor Pasa.

A version of Slip Slidin' Away, including harmonies from Garfunkel, showed the crowd what might have been had the pair not split in 1970 while a story of how they met and the first song they recorded together, Hey Schoolgirl, illustrated how fated their music seemed to have been, the pair brought together for success.

Art was the first to take centre stage by himself and the 67-year-old defied his age with impassioned versions of three of his songs, including the UK No. 1 hit, Bright Eyes.

Of the two vocalists, Garfunkel showed his age the most, sometimes seeming to struggle to find his breath. However, this most unique voice was still able to stretch and hit the highest notes of his repertoire, despite not having some of the strength it once had.

Paul Simon then gave the show a touch of Graceland along with some much-needed energy and fun. Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard got the crowd moving before Boy in the Bubble and Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes, complete with six-part harmonies and African isicathamiya, brought the house down.

Simon's performance shows no sign of aging. If you have ever watched the Graceland DVD, you'd swear - apart from his looks - he'd stepped onto the Vector stage straight from 1991.

The two reunited on stage, amidst mutual praise for their friendship, before delivering The Only Living Boy in New York and Bridge Over Troubled Water to a standing ovation.

The one qualm I had at this concert was that the crowd took until the first encore and Cecilia to actually get up and dance. I couldn't put my finger on just why that happened but I got an overall impression that people were reticent to lose themselves in the fun of the evening and let go with a boogie as has happened at similar shows previously.

However, the final encores put my worries to the wayside as The Boxer, Leaves That Are Green and Feelin' Groovy brought the best out of the audience and sent everyone home with a smile on their face and countless hummable melodies throughout their minds.

The hype was warranted for a show that sold out within minutes and a legendary lineup that may not be seen again on these shores. Simon and Garfunkel hold a place within the hearts of many a Kiwi household and the keenest of those hearts that attended Vector Arena were certainly warmed.

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