Paul Simon - SECC, Glasgow, Fri 24 Jun 2011 (4 stars)

Paul Simon - SECC, Glasgow, Fri 24 Jun 2011

A perfectly-crafted set from the legendary pop monarch

‘Glasgow – I once got into a lot of trouble in this town,’ Paul Simon told the full-house at the Clyde Auditorium. Maybe the singer was divorced from his psychoanalyst’s stepdaughter here. Simon didn’t elaborate, though he scarcely needed to: the grittier details of his five decades as the poet laureate of the bittersweet life lesson, of being pop’s premier poet of the heart’s moving toyshop were etched into the songs with loving precision. Without exception, no popular tunesmith has created a songbook as deep and broad as Rhymin’ Simon’s and he unfurled it tonight with dazzling generosity.

It was an evening of skyscraping standards; from song choice (all the classics except, bafflingly, ‘You Can Call Me Al’ and ‘Graceland’) to musicianship, his band recreating, yet expanding upon, songs known to us as intimately as our own reflections in the mirror. The South African and Brazilian flavours of recent albums marinaded the plainer arrangements of earlier songs such as ‘50 Ways To Leave Your Lover’. ‘Still Crazy After All These Years’ remained the exquisite anthem of anyone who’s ever split their record collection with a departing other half. Such was the writer’s omnicompetence, in fact, that he could get away including just one Simon and Garfunkel song, a stark acoustic ‘Sound Of Silence’. We departed this bravura performance buoyed with reminders of the altitude to which pop music can ascend. And how many songwriters could feature as exit music Sinatra singing one of their own songs?

Paul Simon performs So Beautiful Or So What at Glastonbury 2011

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