Simon and Garfunkel
Wednesday, June 23
Exactly one-half of Simon and Garfunkel looked happy to be playing to a packed Conseco Fieldhouse last Wednesday night. Unfortunately, it was the wrong half.
Looking as if someone had just finished towing his Mercedes, Paul Simon smiled exactly three times by my count during the two-hour-plus show. He grinned once while singing with the Everly Brothers, once during an extended instrumental jam and a near-grimace of a smile as the duo departed the stage after the last encore.
Art Garfunkel, on the other hand, looked pleased as punch. Handling nearly all of the between-song patter, he made many references to “my dear friend Paul” and their 50-year friendship while his partner stood sullenly a few feet behind him.
The show itself, honed by more than a year on the road, was tight and featured just about every classic in the S&G songbook. A muscular “Hazy Shade of Winter,” a spirited “Keep the Customer Satisfied” and a suitably silly “At The Zoo” were unexpected treasures in a set otherwise filled with the group’s greatest hits. Of those, “My Little Town,” “I Am A Rock” and the anthemic “Bridge Over Troubled Water” were the most impassioned, although the entire set was very consistent.
There were a few signs of trouble, however. Occasionally, the two would step over each other’s vocals and, more disturbingly, several songs were changed from their original key to one more suited to Garfunkel’s always-fragile voice. Still, the crowd obviously loved them and was willing to forgive them any trespass. And despite looking like an aged Muppet, Garfunkel still adds sweetening to Simon’s matter-of-fact vocals.
Unlike the evening’s headliners, Don and Phil Everly appear to still love singing together, although their harmonies are unable to match the achingly beautiful tones of their youth. They more than made up for this in phrasing and energy, though, giving the evening a needed mid-set lift.
Whether Simon and Garfunkel will continue performing together is anyone’s guess, but they brought an effective mix of nostalgia and harmony to Indianapolis in their first show here since Johnson was president. If the nostalgia was more potent than the harmony, well, that’s not entirely their fault.