Paul Simon vs. Don McClean

McClean outshines Simon on Pyramid Stage

Paul Simon vs. Don McClean

Photographer: Sara BowreyJohn Bownas on 26 June 2011

McClean outshone Simon on several counts. His set was more balanced and in tune with the relaxed sunny Sunday afternoon. His delivery was confident and almost statesmanlike, and the quality of the sound across the arena was consistently good.

Paul Simon on the other hand might be equally the veteran of thousands of performances, but his choice of songs wasn't really what the crowd had turned out in their droves for. Too many new songs kept the old hits at bay, and when he did get to 'Diamonds' and 'Call Me Al' there were many whose attention had strayed and may well have missed these songs.

But to be frank they were not missing much.

Whilst McClean's delivery of 'Starry Night' was poignant and genuinely heartfelt, Simon ran through his biggest hits simply by the numbers. And his vocals seemed to fade in and out through his songs despite there being no wind to speak of to carry the sound away.

However, anyone with an all-time classic like 'American Pie' could certainly take a leaf out of Don McClean's book.

Tempo and time signature changes abounded as the crowd sang along with the maestro conducting them like an orchestra. The only unnecessary flourish was McClean asking the tens of thousands of fans to join in.

Not everyone knows every verse to this epic of popular music, but nobody can resist having a stab at some of them, and the chorus is of course a stone, cold cert for a sing-a-long. The joyful Glastonbury audience didn't disappoint and the PA could have simply been turned off several times as thousands of harmonising voices drove the wheeling seagulls into the summer sky.

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