Cut for length, just for a change.
Oakland sucks. At the risk of offending those on my Friends list who live and work in Southampton, it's rather like Southampton. Big port, no real centre or character.
It was entirely my fault that we spent the best part of the day there rather than just popping along in the evening for the concert; the town has a Jack London connection and I had been led to believe there was a museum devoted to his life and works.
There wasn't. There is a horrible statue of the man, a nice statue of a wolf, an authentic log cabin transported piecemeal from the Klondike, and Heinold's First And Last Chance Saloon, an alarmingly tilted bar made from the hull of a ship which London frequented.
This did not take up the whole afternoon. Luckily Oakland is also home to the Museum of California, where we could while away the hours looking at stuffed examples of native fauna from the state's different types of habitat, a model drive-in and a real-time mastodon excavation.
What can I say about Simon and Garfunkel in concert? I've seen Art solo, I've seen Paul solo, and the whole is infinitely greater than the sum of its parts.
They seemed delighted to be together again and indicated that the split was a silly thing to do, and now that much troubled water has passed under the bridge they're ready to be friends. Mind you, I believe similar things were said at the 1981 Concert in Central Park.
Perhaps learning from the Park gig and subsequent re-breakup, they only did two solo Simon numbers: Slip Slidin' Away and American Tune. But they sounded so beautiful together that it made one wistfully imagine an alternate reality in which they didn't part ways in 1970 and all those lovely Rhymin' Simon songs were written for two voices.
Both voices have changed with age, and most of Garfunkel's high notes had been adjusted to suit his register. But they sounded and looked absolutely magical nonetheless. Paul, in an orange T-shirt, was bouncing about the stage like a mad thing all the time he wasn't singing or playing. He seems to have discarded the baseball cap he's been wearing for the last few albums; a brave move when standing next to Art, whose hairline may be receding but who still sports a huge blond curly mop.
Halfway through they brought on the Everly Brothers as surprise guests. Don and Phil were a big influence on Paul and Art in the early days, so it was very special to see them up there together. And to see two guys who've been at each other's throats for thirty years onstage with two guys who've been at each other's throats for forty years :)
They did all the songs you'd expect and a few treats for the hardcore fans - Hey, Schoolgirl anyone? The audience, ranging in composition from kids to grandparents, gave them a 10-minute standing ovation.
I heard one member of staff tell another that there are 18,000 seats in the Oakland Arena, and every one had been filled. There cannot have been a dry eye in the house when the lights went up and they launched into what else but Old Friends, and things just got better from there.
The evening was slightly marred by the huge bloke who tried to steal our tickets as we were exiting the BART station. Claiming to be Security, he asked to see our tickets, took them, ripped off the receipt and gave that back to me with assurances that it was the portion required to get us in.
We asked, rather belatedly, for some ID and he said "I don't need no ID man, I'm undercover." He tried the same trick on the next guy to emerge, whereupon the three of us snatched our tickets back and trotted off to report the matter to real Security. Our new friend suggested we should have a song dedicated to us as a reward: Keep The Customer Satisfied!
Speaking of daylight robbery, I bought a tour T-shirt.
And mostly for kowarth's benefit:
- Old Friends/Bookends Theme
- Hazy Shade of Winter
- I Am A Rock
- At The Zoo segued into
- Baby Driver
- Kathy's Song
- The Everly Brothers:
- Wake Up, Little Susie
- All I Have To Do Is Dream
- Let It Be Me
- (with Simon & Garfunkel) Bye Bye Love
- Scarborough Fair
- Homeward Bound
- Mrs Robinson
- The Sound of Silence
- Slip Slidin' Away
- El Condor Pasa
- Keep The Customer Satisfied
- The Only Living Boy In New York
- American Tune
- My Little Town
- Bridge Over Troubled Water
- (encore) Cecilia
- The Boxer
- (second encore) Leaves That Are Green
- The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)