THIS was billed as “an intimate evening with Art Garfunkel”, although its host preferred to think of it as “a public display of recovery”.
Famed in the late 1960s as the angelic vocal channel for Paul Simon’s acute folk-pop songwriting sensibility, the 73-year-old Garfunkel lost his voice half a decade ago, just before going on stage with Simon. The period from then until now has been filled with hard work to repair what was lost, he told the crowd.
So perhaps it was entirely understandable that the atmosphere was relaxed bordering on ecclesiastical. Garfunkel cut a dignified presence in professorial glasses and waistcoat, his slight paunchiness and wispy grey hair a stark contrast to the rake-thin, blond-curled young man who forged a respectable film career in the 1970s. He was joined by guitarist Todd Laven and electric pianist Clifford Carter, both virtuoso players, albeit sidelined for chunks of the show while Garfunkel read poems and extracts from his forthcoming autobiography.
The voice held up and rang softly out, for the most part, although it did result in different avenues being taken through familiar signature tracks like Homeward Bound, Bright Eyes and The Sound of Silence.
Half-joking, Garfunkel declared the gig was over before Bridge Over Troubled Water, and that we were “in workshop; we can’t leave without trying it”. There was a very personal touch to his selections, paying tribute to Randy Newman with Real Emotional Girl and the Everly Brothers with Let It Be Me, and bringing poignant immediacy to The Side of a Hill’s anti-war line, “people forget what a child’s life is worth”.