Yesterday I spent a wonderful evening at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center at Paul Simon’s second of two shows on the island. Although officially retired from touring, Simon shared that the concerts were a “thank you” to the island now that he lives here. All profits from the shows are going to two Hawaiian environmental projects - Auwahi Forest Restoration Project and Kua‘āina Ulu ‘Auamo (KUA).
What to say about the concert? There was so much. I feel as though I need to sit through it again, and again, and again…just to take it in. The band of 14 were tight, some of them being local musicians, and included horns, percussion and strings. During a set that lasted two hours, Simon played from a huge back catalogue and even then just touched the surface of his over 50 year long career - he is 77. And he did not sit on the laurels of the original arrangements. Songs were reworked, extended, but were still the favourites from when they were originally released. His version of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was beautiful.
During the evening, Simon was joined separately on stage by two other musicians who live on Maui. Hawaiian slack guitarist Keola Beamer, who as well as singing a Hawaiian song with Simon also sung his own song, Honolulu City Lights, while Simon stepped back. Towards the end of the show, Michael Murphy came on to play a reworked, and apparently little rehearsed version of Cecillia.
With the band having left the stage, and the clock passing two hours, Paul picked up his guitar and started playing the first few bars of “Sound of Silence”. He was ending with the song that had started his career.
Thank you Paul for a wonderful evening and for the music. That was a truly memorable concert.