A few days ago I told someone Paul Simon and Sting were a rather random pairing of musicians to perform together on an extensive world tour. I expected two completely separate shows and a real contrast between acts. But after seeing them play the Bowl of Brooklands in New Plymouth on Saturday, I take that back. This wasn’t an odd match up, it was a perfect union.
What a showcase of hit, after hit, after hit! For an almost three hour set there wasn’t a single minute that wasn’t entertaining. The artists took turns on stage playing their own extensive repertoires as well as regularly coming together to perform as one super act, complete with their two bands brought together as a magnificent 15-piece cacophony. These moments in particular were what stood out during the gig. The first taste we got of this was right at the start of the show during a soft and sway-inducing Fields of Gold. It was at the end of that song that I knew we were truly in for a night of hits and genius collaborations.
Any Simon and Garfunkel fans wouldn’t have been disappointed with a lack of harmonies in Art Garfunkel’s absence. In the songs made famous by the duo for their stunning vocal abilities, Sting stepped up to the plate wonderfully. When the pair played The Boxer I found myself in musical heaven, they sounded magical together and the audience knew it and responded with an almighty singalong.
On their own the two artists gave us a perfect taste of all their hits, no obscure songs from failed albums featured on this set list, each song was worthy. Sting treated us to the best of the Police, performing rousing versions of Roxanne and Walking On The Moon, which were impossible to sit still during. But the best moment was when he tackled Simon’s much loved America. He brought the crowd of 11,000 to a standstill as he enunciated the beautiful lyrics perfectly and gave Simon a run for his money. As the song came to a somber close he cleverly brought in the base line of Message in a Bottle and what was a tear inducing moment was quickly spun around into a massive dance party as people all across the hillside leapt about “sending out an SOS”.
Paul Simon’s solo showcase also had a dance-inducing effect. Hits like Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard, The Mother and Child Reunion and You Can Call Me Al were enthralling. The band brought the eclectic backing beats alive and Simon bounced along with an infectious enthusiasm. You wouldn’t know he was 73, he still acts like a young thing and there was no sign he was running out of energy. As for his voice, it’s as breathtaking as ever. Add to the mix Sting’s impressive crooning and it’s a recipe that couldn’t go wrong.
Finally, what a finish. Every Breath You Take, Cecilia and Bridge Over Troubled Water – could you ask for a better line up of songs? The mesmerising performance by Sting and Simon came to a wondrous culmination of both of their sounds as they sang these most famous songs of theirs as if they’ve been playing together forever.
The connection between them was electric, it was obvious they have a real love for each others music and are having the time of their lives playing together. It’s not often you’d get a double bill with two superstars as big as this that are willing to play together, instead of just alongside each other. Both Simon and Sting were equal in talent and a dull moment was never even close to happening during the long set.
I want more – perhaps it’s time for an album collaboration? I’d be first in line to buy it.