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Concert Reviews:
Paul Simon bids fond farewell at DTE
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Explaining that he's not entirely sure what "farewell" means, Paul Simon told a near-sellout crowd at the DTE Energy Music Theatre that. "One thing will end, another will come. That's the way it was mean to be."

But on Sunday night, June 10, Simon's fans were happy to embrace what is, apparently, going away.

Simon's Homeward Bound: The Farewell Tour's stop at DTE -- a venue where he's played solo and co-billed with Bob Dylan -- offered a generous goodbye, a two-hour and 20-minute troll through one of the richest and most accomplished catalogs in not just pop but in all of American music history. The 26-song show, loaded with audience singalongs, celebrated Simon the acoustic troubadour and the world music purveyor of "Graceland" and "The Rhythm of the Saints," and everything in between. Each song was sublimely arranged for varying configurations of his 14-member mini-orchestra, a corps of multi-instrumentalists that included string, woodwind and brass from the New York chamber group yMusic and even background whistlers during the idiosyncratic "Rewrite."

You could throw a dart at the setlist and land on a highlight, whether it was the Michigan mentions during the opening "America" or the lively polyrhythmic romp of "The Boy in the Bubble," a pairing of "Mother and Child Reunion" and "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" that brought the AARP-median crowd to its feet for the first time of the evening, or powerful renditions of "The Obvious Child" and "The Cool, Cool River." A mid-show segment that featured yMusic at the front of the stage, meanwhile, included a special treat -- the tour debut of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," a song Simon said "has a strange deterrent for me" but shimmered in its elegiac new arrangement.

The "Graceland" tandem of "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" and "You Can Call Me Al" closed the main set in a frenetic frenzy, while "Graceland" itself was an ebullient lead-off for the encores.

Dressed in a dark jacket and red T-shirt, the 76-year-old Simon seemed loose but laser-focused throughout the show, dancing at times and fortifying songs such as "Rewrite," "Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War" and "Questions for the Angels" with lengthy, insightful introductions. It was all about the music and nearly 55 years of recording, and after a faithful rendering of "The Boxer" Simon brought the evening -- and his touring career to these parts -- to a close with solo performances of "American Tune" and "The Sound of Silence," even turning off the massive video screen above the stage to heighten the intimacy.

Simon will no doubt continue to create if not tour, but as he sang in "American Tune," "all I'm trying is to get some rest." And surveying the career he put forth during Sunday night's show, there was no denying that rest has been well-earned.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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