Of course, like most Israelis, we spent the first half hour as we waited for Paul to show up, complaining about how we got screwed. The seats weren’t great, too many people walking in front of us and so on. But when Paul walked on, picked up his guitar and without a word his band started blasting out “The Boy in the Bubble”, all that was shoved aside. This isn’t some kind of Lady Gaga show where it’s all about the stage. This show was about the music, and the sound last night was fabulous.
The concert turned out to be like one of those gourmet meals you pay for through the roof. You know you’re paying way too much – but you can’t help but feel the ecstasy. Paul Simon, at the age of 70, was as gourmet as it gets last night.
It was a perfect combination of new and old songs. I usually get a bit frustrated at concerts when I hear a song I don’t know, or when an artist insists on doing his “new stuff”. When Paul did it last night, I felt like I wanted to go out and buy his new record. It sounded great, it sounded interesting.
Like many, I also grew up on Simon and Garfunkel. I was only eight years old when they did Central Park, but that concert album was played over and over in my home. It almost felt like I knew each drum beat, each guitar strum, and each applause from the crowd. I was always jealous of those hundreds of thousands attending a night of perfection in the best city in earth.
But last night brought an end to those jealous pangs. When he did Mother and Child reunion I felt like I was actually there, in Central Park. And the Israeli crowd even helped me out more when they howled in sync and in perfect timing in “The Sounds of Silence” as Paul sang the words “And in the naked night I saw 10,000 people, even more”, just like the Central Park show.
And there was something about it, I can’t put my finger on it, but something more convincing about him without Garfunkel next to him. As if him having the spotlight to himself does good. I found myself listening closer to the words, closer than I ever did. At the age of 70, his voice was clear, and when he sang “Slip Sliding Away”, I got a lump in my throat.
God only knows
God makes his plan
The information’s unavailable
To the mortal man
We work our jobs
Collect our pay
Believe we’re gliding down the highway
When in fact we’re slip slidin’ away
And of course, being a +972’er, I couldn’t help but add in the politics. I hate that. I wish I could just enjoy something for what it is. But when he began the beautiful guitar acoustics of “Hearts and Bones”, one of the most beautiful love songs ever written, I took it to that place of equality, of “if only we all understood that we’re all hearts and bones” place.
I was worried, for a second, that he wouldn’t do my favorite “Late in the Evening”, but towards the end of the show he calmed me down, with a thumping version that “blew the room away!”
There was “50 ways”, there was “Kodachrome”, but it were the Graceland songs that were the epitome, for me, of Paul Simon’s genius. They reminded me of the perfection and richness of that album and of how I want to listen to it again. Right now. As we speak.
The band was amazing, the encores were outstanding, with the crowd singing their hearts out with “You can call me Al” and “Still crazy after all these years.
And before he ended over two hours of nonstop singing with ‘The Boxer”, he didn’t forget the most important thing:
“I’m not much of a praying man, but tonight I’d like to say a prayer. A prayer for peace. Shalom Aleichem, Malachei Hashalom. Peace for Israel and for its neighbors.Salam Aleykum”.
I truly love that guy. Really, I do.