Still Crazy After All These Years: Paul Simon at The Mann

On June 25th, I was given a great opportunity, a chance to see the legendary singer/songwriter Paul Simon at the Mann Music Center. I did not know what to expect. I am a big fan, but  he’s getting older, I thought, and playing a concert to a large crowd can be quite demanding for anyone, let alone someone that is 74. I parked my car and made my way towards the concert hall. I could see a sea of people who were likely in their forties or older. I was clearly one of the youngest people at the show. Oh boy, this could be a long show I said to myself as I grabbed my ticket and made my way to my seat.

I began to observe the crowd as they slowly shuffled to their seats. Before long, the venue was packed.  At around 8:30, the backing musicians for Mr. Simon’s band came out and began to play. The sun had still not set at this point, and the crowd seemed relatively unenthused when the first few notes were played. Things changed however when Paul came out, and the band began playing “The Boy in The Bubble”, a classic cut off of his masterwork Graceland. Suddenly, there was a feeling of excitement in the air, and the show was just beginning.

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One of the incredible things about Paul Simon is that he has amassed such a large back catalogue. Just after the last notes of “The Boy in the Bubble” were played, the band began to play “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” off of Simon’s 1975 album, Still Crazy After All These Years. One tends to forget the massive career he’s had, and the things he has accomplished as a solo musician alone and his career with Simon & Garfunkel.

Once the initial excitement of the set began to wear off, the show seemed to calm down a bit. Paul, having 50+ years of experience under his belt, saw this, and the band ripped into a rambunctious rendition of “The Mother and Child Reunion”, and “Me and Julio Down By the School Yard” just after. Longtime guitarist Vincent Nguini who has been playing in Paul’s band for 25 years gave a speech to introduce a song called “Spirit Voices” and a few jokes as well.

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Despite his age, Paul Simon was seemingly as energetic as a child at moments, and that really carried over in his performance. You could tell that he still has an attachment to the music he is playing and that he isn’t just going through the motions. Paul managed to weave a mix of songs from his vast career into his set. By the end of his first set, everyone was on their feet dancing and singing for “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” and “You Can Call Me Al”. Paul left the stage, and the crowd was going wild waiting his return.

The band came back out and began to play Paul’s new song “Wristband” off of his new record, Stranger to Stranger. The crowd was now fully immersed and everyone was signing along through the last notes of “Still Crazy After All These Years”. Paul left the stage again, and just when people thought he was finished, he returned and the crowd went wild. Simon closed out the night with the Simon and Garfunkel classics “The Boxer” and a solo rendition of “The Sound of Silence”, leaving everyone in the audience in complete awe. The crowd, myself included, were absolutely amazed at the performance he gave that night, a two hour marathon set that would put most 20 year old performers to shame.

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1 Comment

  1. Lauren

    July 14, 2016 at 12:41 am

    I am so devastated I missed this show! And I love his new song “Wristbands”!

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