Reason to Believe We All Will Be Received

Paul Simon – Live at the Greek Theatre (10-4-06)

“It’s surreal,” I overheard a middle-aged woman saying as I left the Greek Theatre, “hearing a guy’s music your whole life, and then actually seeing him.” I could relate, but at 22, it’s a little different for me. I’ve been hearing Pearl Jam my whole life.

Paul Simon’s voice held up wonderfully. He hit every note he attempted, though he often was content to just speak his lyrics. Paul Simon is heroically uninhibited: whenever he isn’t playing guitar, he waves his hands around as if following, with his fingers, the notes as they float through the air.

Likewise, the backing vocals were strong and clear. Simon’s band is full of top-notch, versatile musicians. The same guys playing guitar, keys, and drums were ready to form a horn section whenever necessary.

The set was hit-friendly, and no one was complaining. Simon steered away from songs from recent albums You’re the One, Capeman, and Rhythm of the Saints, each of which have their die-hard fans but none of them have the mass appeal of “Loves Me Like A Rock,” “The Only Living Boy In New York,” “The Boxer,” “Graceland,” “Mrs. Robinson,” “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” “Slip Sliding Away,” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

He avoided making his brand new Surprise the focus of the concert, playing only four songs from the album. Yet those songs, which had some annoying production on the album, sounded great live. “How Can You Live In the Northeast” built up to a solid rock crescendo, “Outrageous” was funky, and “Wartime Prayers” worked live as a solo acoustic number.

At times, the show was just a party. “Me and Julio,” “You Can Call Me Al,” and “Cecilia” had everybody dancing in, and eventually out of, their seats. Even during the slower songs, the crowd was connected to the music—much trickier at a larger outdoor venue like the Greek.

It was a decidedly American concert, even when Simon and his band played Graceland songs. The “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” intro was a little barbershop and “The Boy in the Bubble” was transformed into a rock song.

He capped the show off with “Late in the Evening,” another gem, another party, another reminder of why the world remains interested in this whimsical, soft-spoken, often awkward little man.

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