ART GARFUNKEL // ROYAL CONCERT HALL, GLASGOW
The Living Legend; ART GARFUNKEL at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall
Anyone who claims to have a modicum of musical knowledge has heard of Art Garfunkel. Even if you think you don’t know him; you do!
Half of one of the greatest ever songwriting duos to have endured and flourished across generations is in Glasgow tonight at, what he claims, is his second favourite venue to have ever played; The Royal Albert Hall being his favourite. He lavished praise upon the venue and told of his love of the City.
As good as the Concert Hall is with big production rock or pop it excels with events like this. The acoustics, the sight lines, the staff and the general atmosphere are always on point.
There is no support act tonight and Art is scheduled for an 8pm appearance. Prior to his arrival on stage an announcement is made to instruct everyone to switch off all electrical devices and that no photography of any kind is permitted during the show. This met with a few moans and a multitude of cameras and phones being switched off. The instruction seemed to be well adhered to throughout the night though.
A few minutes after eight the two accompanying musicians came on stage. One sets up with an acoustic guitar and sits upon a bar stool; a very uncomfortable looking bar stool. The other musician nestles in behind a stage piano/strings keyboard. They both start playing the first song and the appearance of Art Garfunkel is on pause, but only momentarily as the unmistakable voice makes its appearance to a great reception from the crowd. Sure, he no longer has the power he used to have; he may miss a note now and then but it’s Art Garfunkel.
I must say at this point that the ages of the people in the crowd spanned the decades; young, old and every age in between. This proves that if the music is good then it is timeless.
The set kicks off with a cover of Marc Cohn’s ‘The Things We Handed Down’ after which he gives up centre stage to his son Arthur Jnr.
The love between the two is evident and Art Jnr. certainly got the gift of his father’s voice. Art puts him in his place at the end of the song though… “He has the voice; I have the hits!”
The hits and the classics just keep coming and Art promotes his new autobiography in between them. The promotion of the book via many extracts read out by Garfunkel shows how much of a wordsmith he really is. He is funny, deep, smart and self reflecting. He has immense love for those people who have touch his life in many positive ways and in particular his family and, of course, Paul Simon.
‘The Boxer’ and ‘Scarborough Fair’ meet with rapturous applause. The crowd is also treated to back stories of both tracks and how he has no idea what “Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme” is all about and Paul Simon has never told him!
‘Homeward Bound’ takes into a short break and at 77 years of age Garfunkel deserves it.
The second half is kicked off by Arthur Jnr. and his rendition of the Charlie Chaplain classic ‘Smile’ as an appreciative and adoring father stands and listens from stage side. This really showcases the voice of Art Jnr. and serves as further proof that he has, indeed, been handed the gift of the Garfunkel voice.
To emphasise the songwriting prowess of Simon and Garfunkel the hits just keep on coming and are interspersed with chat, story and prose. The crowd hang on every word and so they should; Garfunkel is a witty and clever man.
‘Bright Eyes’ and ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ are followed by the spine tingling ‘Sound of Silence’. This was my personal favourite part of the show and genuinely gave me the chills and the crowd just about took the roof off the venue!
Another duet with Arthur Jnr. and a quick lullaby brought the set to an end and there is no way anyone went home disappointed.
The right balance between songs and narration. The right mix of classic Simon & Garfunkel and covers. It was just... right.
Simon & Garfunkel once played a gig to a crowd in excess 680,000 people in Central Park but Garfunkel seemed, at times, taken aback by the warmth of the Glasgow crowd. He was in a happy place and thanked the crowd for taking him there and being with him on the night and in the past.
The legend; the man? He held Glasgow on his every word; his every note and anecdote. He didn’t just sing for his fans; he gave them a part of himself through his warmth and personality.
The book promotion? I might just buy a copy.