Paul Simon at Hard Rock Calling 2012 review
Hard Rock Calling 'silenced' for a second night
16 July 2012
It's hard to imagine 60,000 people making exactly no noise, but that's exactly what’s happening in Hyde Park tonight
as Paul Simon finger picks his way through the song that
first brought him popular acclaim almost 50 years ago. A crowd that stretches back just as far has brought along their children
and grandchildren (or is it the other way round) and together a murmured hum becomes a hymnal chorus and then an appreciated
applause to the words, “in the naked light I saw 10,000 people, maybe more”. After all the rain and mud
Hyde Park is washed by the setting sun, and live open air festivals regain their much loved place in the
British summer calendar.
If a legendary songwriter was ever able to punctuate their career with a second wind it’s Paul Simon. Twenty-five years into his career in 1986, Simon took influence from African township music and released an album that went on to sell over 14 million copies – 'Graceland'. Tonight, it’s this album that has brought this crowd together and many of the original musicians back together. Looking relaxed and yet totally in charge, Simon first lulls the crowd in some of his own tracks before being joined by a dazzling Jimmy Cliff on stage (playing a mini-greatest hits set) and then leaves Lady Black Mambazo to introduce us to the Graceland set. As he joins them for 'Homeless' and 'Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes' you can feel the warmth of the collaboration emanating from stage and a genuine happiness to be playing these songs in a much changed world to that in which they were first written. A point brought home further when 73-year-old Hugo Masekela comes on stage to perform 'Free Nelson Mandela' in between the title track 'Graceland' (we all feel like we’re journeying there with Paul) and 'You Can Call Me Al' – where the crowd all play imaginary trumpets and continue to do so long after the song (and the concert) have actually finished.
With what must be one of the largest collections of instruments and musicians ever seen on stage it’s that solo 'Sounds of Silence' moment that hits home most. You get the feeling that Simon likes having people around him and giving them the opportunity to shine, but ultimately, he’s got a songwriter’s soul which everything returns to. Tonight in Hyde Park, Paul Simon symbolises that “you come in on your own and you leave on your own”, it’s what you do in between that counts the most. What he did was 'Graceland'.
By Andy Wood.
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