Music review: Art Garfunkel, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

With his former partner Paul Simon auspiciously retired from touring, Art Garfunkel is now the principal torch carrier of their exquisite songwriting catalogue and he proclaimed himself to be “over-excited” at the prospect of sharing the legacy on the final night of his UK tour. Naturally the more conservative of the pair, Garfunkel presided over a conventional, intimate “evening with…” set-up of songs and stories, backed by Paul Beard on keyboards, Tab Laven on guitar and with periodic cameo appearances by his son Arthur Jr, who has inherited the heartbreaking pipes.

Art Garfunkel brought all his experience and tenderness to the catalogue of love songs. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
Art Garfunkel brought all his experience and tenderness to the catalogue of love songs. Picture: AFP/Getty Images

Art Garfunkel, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall ****

His proud dad watched from the sidelines as he delivered the bittersweet Wednesday Morning 3am with a faultless ease which his father has lost following a lengthy bout of vocal paresis at the start of the decade. Garfunkel Sr, in turn, could bring all his experience to bear on a more emotional delivery – his light, breathy voice radiating vulnerability and tenderness.

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Later, they demonstrated their innate bond with honeyed harmony renditions of two Everly Brothers’ songs, Devoted To You and the rapturous Let It Be Me, and Garfunkel went on to showcase his facility for heart-on-sleeve love songs, covering Randy Newman’s Real Emotional Girl and pairing Jimmy Webb’s All I Know with Gallagher & Lyle’s A Heart In New York.

Not that he needed to go beyond the Simon & Garfunkel catalogue for blushing romance, recognising the captivating power of both Kathy’s Song and the towering For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her.

He paid due tribute to Paul Simon’s acclaimed lyricism but Garfunkel himself exhibited a practised poetry and gentle eloquence in his scripted linking monologues as well as his “prose poems” and readings from his recent autobiography What Is It All But Luminous, which injected some wry humour among the “molasses” of the music.

All too quickly, it was time to fire the big guns. His biggest solo hit, Bright Eyes, was received with a collective swoon, followed by an abridged Bridge Over Troubled Water and the perennially haunting Sound of Silence (“the song that changed my life”), both shorn of their epic swell but retaining their poignant sentiments.

Always keen to control the narrative, Garfunkel identified the common devotional thread through all his music and it was hard to argue otherwise as he closed his set with the gentle benediction of Now I Lay Me Down. - FIONA SHEPHERD