Paul Simon London Palladium 12th December 1975
I first saw Paul Simon in the historic surroundings of the London Palladium in December 1975. He had just released his fourth solo album “Still Crazy After All These Years” and I went with my friend Ian. We bought day returns and went down to London by train, catching the midnight train home after the concert. Paul had just released a single from the album, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”. “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” was a No 1 hit in the US, but only reached No 23 in the UK singles charts. The concert was the second of four nights at the Palladium. He also played a concert in Birmingham and in Manchester. Simon played songs from “Still Crazy After All These Years”, plus several Simon and Garfunkel classics. I remember that we both really enjoyed the concert, and that he finished with “Sound of Silence”, which has always been my favourite of his songs.
Penny Valentine reviewed the concert for Street Life at the time and described Paul Simon as “immaculate”, commenting on how the audience “checked their coats neatly and queued neatly afterwards to get them. I wouldn’t have been surprised if they’d ordered interval tea like a matinee crowd. They had come to pay homage. They did it through three encores then they quietly left. It was a very polite evening.”
Based on published setlists from the period, it is likely that the set was something like this:
Set 1: America. Duncan, Something So Right, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, Loves Me Like a Rock, Some Folks´ Lives Roll Easy, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Me & Julio Down By the Schoolyard, Homeward Bound, Mother & Child Reunion, I Do It For Your Love, You´re Kind, Bluesette
Set 2: Have A Good Time, Still Crazy After All These Years, My Little Town, The Boxer, Mrs. Robinson, Gone at Last, American Tune, The Sound of Silence
Paul Simon’s band: Steve Gadd (drums), Randy Brecker (trumpet), Richard Tee (piano), Tony Levin (bass), Michael Brecker (sax), Hugh McCracken (guitar), Toots Thielemans (harmonica), Jessy Dixon and possibly Phoebe Snow (vocals).
Paul Simon London Palladium 12th December 1975
Simon and Garfunkel Manchester Arena 14th July 2004
I really didn’t expect to get the chance to see Simon and Garfunkel together again. But, 20 years after touring the world, including a show at Wembley Stadium, the duo reformed again, and were back out on the road on their “Old Friends” tour. Support this time came from their childhood heroes and influences the Everly Brothers. The show was in three parts. Simon and Garfunkel started with “Old Friends / Bookends” and then were straight into one of my favourites, “Hazy Shade of Winter”. The first half featured other classics including “America” and “Kathy’s Song”. For the last song of the first set the pair took us right back to their first hit, “Hey Schoolgirl”, from the days when they were known as Tom and Jerry. That song gave them a chance to pay tribute to the guys whose songs and harmonies influenced them, as they welcomed Don and Phil Everly to take the stage. The Everlys then played a short set of four songs: “Wake Up Little Susie”; “All I Have to Do Is Dream”; “Let It Be Me” and “Bye Bye Love”. Simon and Grafunkel returned for a second set including all the other great tunes: “Scarborough Fair”; “Homeward Bound”; my all-time favourite “The Sound of Silence”; “Mrs. Robinson” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Paul Simon also sang a number of his solo hits. The screens behind them showed videos of them as kids, and during the ’60s, bringing back lots of memories for all of us. The audience called them back for a few encores, including the haunting “Leaves That Are Green”. Wonderful stuff. Now whats the chances of them coming back again in another 10 years? Well you never know, do you.
Set 1: Old Friends/Bookends; A Hazy Shade of Winter; I Am a Rock; America; At the Zoo; Baby Driver; Kathy’s Song; Hey, Schoolgirl.
The Everly Brothers set: Wake Up Little Susie; All I Have to Do Is Dream; Let It Be Me; Bye Bye Love
Set 2: Scarborough Fair/Canticle; Homeward Bound; The Sound of Silence; Mrs. Robinson; Slip Slidin’ Away; El Condor Pasa (If I Could); Keep the Customer Satisfied; The Only Living Boy in New York; American Tune; My Little Town; Bridge Over Troubled Water.
Encore: Cecilia; The Boxer
Encore 2: Leaves That Are Green; The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)
Simon and Garfunkel Wembley Stadium 19th June 1982
I never thought I’d get the chance to see Simon and Garfunkel in concert. I’d seen Paul Simon once at a concert in the London Palladium in the 1970s, but felt that the chance of a reunion with Art Garfunkel was slim. However, Simon and Garfunkel did reunite for a free concert in New York City’s Central Park on September 19, 1981. The Central Park concert was attended by over 500,000 people, a recording of it was released as a live album, and the duo then went on to go on a world tour in 1982–83, including a performance at London in June 1982. This was a great concert, with Paul and Art singing all their classic hits, along with a couple of Paul Simon solo songs, Art Garfunkel’s “Bright Eyes” and a nod to their influences in the form of a couple of Everly Brothers’ songs. At the time I thought it strange going to see a folk-based act in a vast stadium, and wondered if the songs would get lost in such a vast venue. I needn’t have worried. The beauty and power of those simple songs transfixed the crowd of 72,000 people. The stage set was similar to the Central Park concert, and as far as I recall, there was no support act.
Setlist: Mrs. Robinson; Homeward Bound; America; Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard; Scarborough Fair; My Little Town; Wake Up Little Susie; Still Crazy After All These Years; Bright Eyes; Late In The Evening; Slip, Sliding Away; El Condor Pasa; American Tune; The Late Great Johnny Ace; Kodachrome/Mabellene; Bridge Over Troubled Water; The Boxer; Old Friends/Bookends; 59th Street Bridge Song; Cecilia; Sounds Of Silence; All I Have To Do Is Dream
Bruce Springsteen The O2 Arena London 19th December 2007
My interest in Springsteen renewed, I decided to go and see this gig at London’s O2 Arena, which fell just before Christmas 2007. This was my 4th visit to the O2 in 2007, following on from concerts by the Stones, Streisand, and Zeppelin. I had a seated ticket right up the back of the arena, but managed to swap it for a standing ticket at the box office. This was the last date of the “Magic” tour and Bruce opened with “Radio Nowhere” which seemed to be played everywhere at the time.
“This is a really big building,” said Springsteen, continuing “That’s okay, coz we’re the big building killers.” He added, “Also known as dead ass killers, for those of you still in your seats!” This was another excellent show by Springsteen. I was pleased that he included “Because the Night”. During the encore, Bruce introduced Clarence as “the next King of England!”, Clarence soloed extensively, to big cheers from the crowd, on “Jungleland.” Given the time of year, we just knew what the last song was going to be. Bruce asked us all “Do you believe in Santa Claus?” followed by lots of Santa Claus hats being thrown onstage, which Bruce and the band picked up and wore. He finished: “Happy holidays from the E Street Band” and “We’ll see you in the summer!” Setlist: Radio Nowhere; No Surrender; Night; Lonesome Day; Gypsy Biker; Magic; Reason to Believe; Because the Night; She’s the One; Livin’ in the Future; The Promised Land; Waitin’ on a Sunny Day; Working on the Highway; Racing in the Street; Devil’s Arcade; The Rising; Last to Die; Long Walk Home; Badlands.
Encore: Girls in Their Summer Clothes; Jungleland; Born to Run; Dancing in the Dark; American Land; Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.
I’ve already blogged on the Bruce concerts I attended in Glasgow, Sunderland and Leeds. Time to move to another act tomorrow.
Bruce Springsteen Dublin The Point The Seeger Sessions tour 19th Nov 2006
In 2006 I was travelling to Dublin on a regular basis and often tried to arrange my trips around concerts. This didn’t usually work out, but this was one of the few occasions when it did. At the time, I’d lost touch with Bruce Springsteen, but my interest in his music was reignited when I heard the Seeger sessions CD. I read the very positive reviews of the album, and I liked the concept: Bruce returning to the roots music which inspired him, and those who influenced him. I missed the tour when it first visited the UK, and kicked myself when I read the rave reviews of the concerts. When Bruce added further dates including a three night stint at the Point, Dublin, I decided to try and get tickets and arrange my next trip to the city around the concert. My plan worked, and I flew over to Dublin on the Sunday morning, attended the concert on the Sunday evening, and went to meetings on Monday, returning home Monday evening.
The Point was a concert venue on the site of an old train depot along the dockland, off O’Connell Street. It operated during the period 1988 to 2007, and played host to the world’s top acts. In 2007 it was redeveloped as an O2 arena with a capacity of 14,000 (the old Point held 8,000). Several bands recorded live albums at the Point, including two which I attended: this series of concerts by Springsteen, and a two night stay by David Bowie.
This was a truly amazing and joyous concert. How could it be anything else? Springsteen singing those simple class gems of Americana with his Seeger sessions band in a lovely, relatively small, venue in Dublin; a city whose people are renowned for song and singing and for taking acts to their hearts. I just knew that this was going to be a special evening. From the minute I entered the Point, I could feel the atmosphere, and the cameras and mikes all over the auditorium made doubly sure that the Dublin crowd was going to give Bruce a reception like no other. From the minute that Springsteen came on stage, held his acoustic guitar high while strumming away at it, standing in line with his massed group of players, the whole hall was singing along as one, and the power and atmosphere continued at full pelt for a couple of hours. There were smiles on all of the band members’ faces, you could see that they were all enjoying the experience and the reaction from the Dublin crowd. There was a sense of a mass party, a celebration, and a religious, gospel gathering, all rolled into one. It was unlike any other performance I have been to, and easily matched the previous Springsteen shows I had been to. At the end of the show, the band brought all of their families, kids and the crew on to the stage, and the whole crowd gave the performer, all their people, and themselves, an ovation that seemed to go on for ever. As we all wandered out into the cold Dublin air, and made our way back along the road to O’Connell Street, we knew we had all been part of something special. I have the DVD, which was drawn from selections across the three nights at the Point, and it captures the excitement and joyous mood of the evening. I was a Springsteen fan again, and have seen him four time since, at concerts in Hampden Park Glasgow, The O2 London, Stadium of Light Sunderland and Leeds Arena.
Setlist: Atlantic City; John Henry; Old Dan Tucker; The Ghost of Tom Joad; Mary Don’t You Weep; Jesse James; Further On (Up the Road); Erie Canal; For You; My Oklahoma Home; If I Should Fall Behind; Mrs. McGrath; How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?; Jacob’s Ladder; Long Time Comin'; Jesus Was an Only Son; Open All Night; Pay Me My Money Down; We Shall Overcome; Blinded by the Light; When the Saints Go Marching In; This Little Light of Mine; American Land
Band (this was a bog band!): Bruce Springsteen (vocals, guitar, harmonica); Sam Bardfeld (violin, vocals); Art Baron (sousaphone, trombone, mandolin, penny whistle, euphonium); Frank Bruno (acoustic guitar, vocals, field drum); Jeremy Chatzky (bass guitar, double bass; Larry Eagle (drums, percussion); Clark Gayton (trombone, vocals, percussion); Charles Giordano (accordion, piano, Hammond organ, vocals); Curtis King Jr. (vocals, percussion); Greg Leisz (banjo, vocals); Lisa Lowell (vocals, percussion); Ed Manion (tenor and baritone saxophones, vocals, percussion); Cindy Mizelle (vocals, percussion); Curt Ramm (trumpet, vocals, percussion); Marty Rifkin (steel guitar, dobro, mandolin); Patti Scialfa (acoustic guitar, vocals); Marc Anthony Thompson (acoustic guitar, vocals); Soozie Tyrell (violin, vocals).
It’s been 40 (!) years since I last saw the Beach Boys in concert. Since then Dennis and Carl Wilson have both sadly passed away, and Brian Wilson has returned to live performance, briefly reuniting with Mike Lcve, Bruce Johnston, Al Jardine and David Marks for a 50th anniversary tour. The current line-up features only Mike Love and Bruce Johnston from the 1960s band, and has resulted in some controversy as to whether these guys can justify calling themselves the Beach Boys. I went along with Marie to this concert out of curiosity, but also to enjoy those great songs one more time. We stayed at a hotel overlooking the race course, and were able to stroll over to join the punters in the County Stand. There were six races before the Beach Boys came on stage. Sadly our betting skills are not great, and we succeeded in losing on every race. Oh well.
The stage was situated along from the stands, and the only way to get a decent view was to move along the course. The Beach Boys came on stage shortly before 9pm. We made our way close to the front, but found the sound to be pretty poor down there, so we returned to the stands. Although we were then only able to view the show on the massive screens, the sound was excellent. The set was, as you would expect, a mix of all those great hits. I was disappointed at first, the poor sound didn’t help, but things started to improve and by the end I was really enjoying it. One unexpected, and very welcome. surprise was the arrival of Roy Wood for a performance of “Fire Brigade”. The other highlight was a performance of “God Only Knows” which showed Carl Wilson singing on the video screens. Carl’s voice and the images, which were taken from the ’60s through to the ’80s, reminded me just how wonderful and influential The Beach Boys were.
Setlist: Do It Again; Goin’ to the Beach; Little Honda; Catch a Wave; Hawaii; Surf City; Surfin’ Safari; Surfer Girl; Don’t Worry Baby; Little Deuce Coupe; 409; Shut Down; I Get Around; Ballad of Ole’ Betsy; Why Do Fools Fall in Love; Darlin'; It’s OK; Fire Brigade (The Move cover, with Roy Wood); California Dreamin'; Cotton Fields; Sloop John B; Wouldn’t It Be Nice; Then He Kissed Me; California Girls; Pisces Brother; God Only Knows; Good Vibrations; Kokomo; Help Me, Rhonda; Do You Wanna Dance?; Barbara Ann; Surfin’ U.S.A. Encore: Wild Honey; Fun, Fun, Fun (with Roy Wood)
Bruce Springsteen St James Park Newcastle 4th June 1985
Four years on from his tremendous performance at the City Hall, Bruce Springsteen was back in Newcastle to headline two nights at St James Park, the home of Newcastle United Football Club, as part of the Born in the USA tour. The tour also called at Wembley Stadium for three nights, and included a show at Roundhay Park, Leeds. This was Springsteen’s biggest and most successful tour to date, and ran from June 1984 until October 1985. One major change in the E Street band was the departure of guitarist Steven Van Zandt who had decided to go solo. He was replaced by Nils Lofgren, whose onstage gymnastics added a new dimension to the show. The tour also gave fans an opportunity to see the new, super fit and muscly Bruce, he had been training heavily in preparation for the marathon performances he would deliver each and every night.
I went along with a group of mates to the first of the two concerts. Bruce and the band took to the stage early, around 6pm, and treated the sold out crowd to a lengthy, high energy performance which ran to over three and a half hours. Bruce ran on stage, and bang bang it was straight into “Born in the USA” and away we went. I enjoyed the gig, and the crowd certainly did, but I also felt that something had been lost in the transformation to stadium rock.To be honest “Born in the USA” isn’t my favourite Springsteen album. I much prefer his finely crafted stories of the American dream as told on “Born to Run”, to the rousing stadium rock anthems of “Born in the USA”. Having said that, the recent Bruce shows I have seen have been examples of how an artist can transcend the boundaries of stadium rock and relate directly to his audience in a much more intimate way. One things for sure, in 1985 Bruce was performing at the top of his game, and setting a standard for stadium rock that others would attempt to follow.
I foolishly lost touch with Bruce Springsteen after this concert, and it was some years before I went to see him again.
Setlist: Born in the U.S.A.; Badlands; Out in the Street; Johnny 99; Atlantic City; The River; Working on the Highway; Trapped; Prove It All Night; Glory Days; The Promised Land; My Hometown; Thunder Road; Cover Me; Dancing in the Dark; Hungry Heart; Cadillac Ranch; Downbound Train; I’m on Fire; Pink Cadillac; Racing in the Street; Rosalita (Come Out Tonight); Born to Run; Bobby Jean; Ramrod; Twist and Shout