Alice Dryden (huskyteer) wrote,
Alice Dryden

So Beautiful, Or So What?

On arrival at the Hammersmith Apollo last night, I felt suddenly shy and self-conscious in my Paul Simon T-shirt. I soon saw plenty of others, old and new.

Paul came on at twenty past eight and ripped into 'Crazy Love, Vol II', a funny little track from the Graceland album. At the end we got to our feet, cheering and clapping. I asked a security lady if I could move to an empty seat in front, but was told no as they were still selling tickets :(

No longer sporting a baseball cap, Paul was unashamedly grey and balding. Old. He thanked us for coming back - "I appreciate that" - and apologised for his voice. I didn't feel there was anything lacking in his performance, however; what he was missing in power he made up in expression and humour, and he played neat little vocal tricks to keep from straining his throat.

There were songs from the new album, including 'Dazzling Blue' and 'Rewrite', top picks of mine, old favourites - lots from Graceland - and some more obscure numbers (I didn't think I'd ever hear 'Peace Like A River' or 'Gone At Last' live).

An hour in, the security lady came over to tell me that they had stopped letting people in and I could move forward if I still wanted to. So I parked myself in Row B.

Apart from a beautiful acoustic 'Sound of Silence' in the encore, there was only one Simon & Garfunkel number: 'The Only Living Boy In New York'.

"OK, that's for Artie," Paul said afterwards.

There were also a couple of covers, something he doesn't usually do: 'Here Comes The Sun' and something I half-recognised which turned out to be 'Mystery Train'.

At 'Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes' the seated patrons erupted upwards to dance and I was able to position myself right next to the stage. I knew this might be as close as I ever got to Paul Simon and drank in every moment of it, pretending that he was performing just for me and, in turn, dancing just for him.

When Paul shook hands with a bold spectator who reached up his arm, I realised that this was my Big Chance and I might actually die if I didn't succeed in touching him.

A couple of songs later he made his way along the edge of the stage, greeting the fans. It looked as if he was going to turn back before reaching my spot at the far left, but I made a desperate lunge and he briefly grasped my sweaty paw in his surprisingly cool and dry hand.

I could find no words except "Thank you man!", and I don't expect he heard those, but hopefully my face was more eloquent.

The encore was so long and so packed with good stuff that it could have been a gig in its own right. Every song I thought must be the last one, because it would be such a good one to end on - 'You Can Call Me Al', 'Still Crazy After All These Years', 'Late In The Evening' - but it went on and on until 'The Boy In The Bubble', an excellent showcase for each member of the band to have a solo.

Paul played many of my favourites - well, about 75% of his output could be classed as 'my favourites' - but the song that stuck with me was one I'd never paid much attention to before: 'Gone At Last', track 1 side 2 of Still Crazy After All These Years.
Once in a while, from out of nowhere
When you don't expect it and you're unprepared
Somebody will come and lift you higher
And your burdens will be shared

...and that, I realised last night, is what Paul's music does for me.

TL;DR: 'FUCKNG SHOOK HIS HAND MAN', as I texted to kowarth last night.
Tags: gigs
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