herald

Monday 11 December 2017

Review

Vicar Street > CHRIS WASSER

"Look, after all these years he's still nervous." Art Garfunkel's first joke of the evening, the golden-voiced gent reminding his audience that the stage fright never goes away. You wouldn't know it. At one point, Art pretends to introduce his former partner, Paul Simon, to the stage. The big tease.

Tonight, Art - accompanied by an exceptional guitarist, Tab Laven - is more than capable of holding his own. The way we saw it, Art Garfunkel was always the tall one. These days, he's a little more slouched; the shirts are baggier, the vocal a tad croakier.

Lest we forget, it wasn't too long ago that the man lost his greatest instrument to vocal cord paresis. It's been a long road to recovery, but he's just about reached the other side. "The voice is back," announces Art, rummaging through a series of personalised notes, readings and anecdotes.

Indeed, this is as much a literary evening with Art Garfunkel (73) as it is a wondrous dusting-off of the greatest folk-rock songbook on earth, the affable raconteur pausing for reflection and recalling the time he had dinner with you-know-who, way-back-when.

Blast

Memories unfold, like the time he engaged in a staring contest with Al Pacino. Filming 1971's Carnal Knowledge alongside Jack Nicholson - boy, that was a blast. Art also shares a speech he gave at Paul Simon's dinner party in Greenwich Village last year (it begins with Garfunkel wondering who will speak at whose funeral…).

However, it's when the beguiling New Yorker opens his mouth to sing Bright Eyes or the beautiful Kathy's Song that the real magic takes hold. True, there's a certain degree of heartbreak in witnessing Garfunkel struggle slightly with The Boxer and, later, Bridge over Troubled Water.

Amazingly, though, the cracks only add to proceedings, and even if he isn't yet 100pc, the chap's gorgeous, angelic cry is still capable of remarkable things (The Sound of Silence is stunning). An endearing presentation of delicate craftsmanship and hypnotic melody-making, it's a pleasure to have Art back in the room. HHHHI

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