Absence can't make Art grow stronger

ROCK

"YOU DIDN'T think I still had this much hair, did you?" chided Art Garfunkel on stage at the Royal Festival Hall on Tuesday. True enough, he didn't look as bald as we might have expected, six years after his last visit. Weird as that coiffure is - a Ronald McDonald clown wig that's slipped back a couple of inches - it never changes. He's still curly after all these years.

His voice, though, has grown husky. On "Bridge Over Troubled Water" it somehow scaled old heights - wistful, lonely, and strangely hollow - but mostly he sounded severely in need of a packet of Tunes. He's got plenty of tunes with a small "t", though: "I Only Have Eyes For You", "Wonderful World", and the Watership Down theme, "Bright Eyes", still the most powerful song ever written about rabbits. With the hymnal "American Tune", he skidded out of his own solo oeuvre and into that of his ex-partner-in-rhyme. From then on, Paul Simon was a ghostly presence, a wraith who seeped into the concert like smoke until he threatened to engulf it altogether.

Before "Scarborough Fair", Garfunkel pondered: "If I had to pick my favourite of all the Simon and Garfunkel tunes, it would be this one." Was it a co-incidence that the song, derived from a traditional folk melody, has the one tune that Simon didn't write? The teasing continued on "Homeward Bound". He replaced "all my words come back to me" with "all his words come back to me", flipping his thumb sideways at an imaginary Simon.

Ice duly broken, he warmed to the theme. One reason that the duo split, he said, was that he had suggested changing a lyric of "Mrs Robinson" from "wo wo wo" to "woo woo woo". "Paul was so touchy," cracked Garfunkel, and slotted in his own words tonight.

He could build a whole stand-up routine around the "former-colleagues- who-have-done-better-than-I-have" line. There is Jack Nicholson, his co- star in the 1971 film Carnal Knowledge. Garfunkel has been jealous of Nicholson ever since, and believes that he would have been better as The Joker in Batman: "I would have done him more ... low-key and wry."

For this concert, he had found co-vocalists less likely to upstage him. On "Cecilia" he was joined by Kathryn Cermak, aka Mrs Garfunkel. I'm not calling her a trophy wife, but as she stood there in a little black dress and on a little black podium, she did look weirdly like a statuette. And for a sprightly jog through "Feelin' Groovy", he ushered in their four- year-old, James, to hit the high notes for him: at last Garfunkel had found a duettist shorter than Simon.

But as with "Mrs Robinson", the gimmick turned a great song into a passable joke, and turned Garfunkel into the dumb blond with the golden voice, willing to play up to his role as a nostalgia act who coulda been a contender. For all its self-deprecating charm, this attitude seemed a bit sad. Wistful, lonely, and hollow; low-key and wry.

On the stage of the London Palladium was a platform with patterned rugs - the sort that students bring back from a year off - spilling over the edge. Rickie Lee Jones sat cross-legged on these, hugging her acoustic guitar, tea-cosied in a woollen hat: all your American, female, hippy- drippy, campfire, singer-songwriter nightmares made flesh. The critically acclaimed missing link between Joni Mitchell and Sheryl Crow, tonight she was more like Phoebe from the American sitcom Friends.

In keeping with her new album, Naked Songs (Reprise), she had sloughed her backing band, and had only a few threads of guitar and piano to cover her modesty. Most of her lyrics, though, were kept well-hidden by her incomprehensible delivery. She seems to imagine that the crass formula of pop music is beneath her, what with all its tunes, rhymes, scansion and so forth.

Exceptions were "Coolsville", a gripping, frightening collision of scat- singing and scattiness; and in a lighter mood, "Chuck E's in Love" and "Easy Money". But frequently her childish, gawky persona made you believe that you were watching a whole concert by Art Garfunkel's son.

Paul Brady is a Northern Irish singer-songwriter who looks like Van Morrison's little brother, and whose compositions have been covered by the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Tina Turner ... and Art Garfunkel. No, not a great recommendation, perhaps, and it's true that his fortysomething soft rock is more sensible than startling. He tends to make a drama out of a mid-life crisis.

In the Jazz Cafe on Monday, though, he loosened up, played a mean tin whistle, and performed with bags of craft, assurance and heart. Inci- dentally, Eric Clapton was in the audience, clapping along. He looked to be enjoying himself a lot more than he does at his own concerts.

Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
books
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
film
Arts and Entertainment
Go figure: Matt Parker, wearing the binary code scarf knitted by his mother
comedy Mathematician is using comedy nights to teach and preach sums
Arts and Entertainment
Ryan Gosling in 'Drive'
filmReview: Ryan Gosling is still there, but it's a very different film
Arts and Entertainment
Urban explorer: Rose Rouse has documented her walks around Harlesden, and the people that she’s encountered along the way
books Rouse's new book discusses her four-year tour of Harlesden
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Franco Zeffirelli's production of 'Aida' at Milan's famed La Scala opera house
operaLegendary opera director in battle with theatre over sale of one of his 'greatest' productions
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Juergen Wolf won the Young Masters Art Prize 2014 with his mixed media painting on wood, 'Untitled'
art
Arts and Entertainment
Iron Man and Captain America in a scene from
filmThe upcoming 'Black Panther' film will feature a solo black male lead, while a female superhero will take centre stage in 'Captain Marvel'
Arts and Entertainment
The Imperial War Museum, pictured, has campaigned to display copyrighted works during the First World War centenary
art
Arts and Entertainment
American Horror Story veteran Sarah Paulson plays conjoined twins Dot and Bette Tattler
tvReview: Yes, it’s depraved for the most part but strangely enough it has heart to it
Arts and Entertainment
The mind behind Game of Thrones George R. R. Martin
books

Will explain back story to fictional kingdom Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Dorothy in Return to Oz

film Unintentionally terrifying children's movies to get you howling (in fear, tears or laughter)
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Robert James-Collier as under-butler Thomas

TVLady Edith and Thomas show sad signs of the time
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Dad's Army cast hit the big screen

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge

books
Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning?
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
music review
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

    Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

    Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
    The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

    Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

    Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
    Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

    What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

    Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
    A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

    Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

    Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
    Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

    'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

    A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

    Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

    The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
    Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

    Paul Scholes column

    Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
    Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

    Frank Warren column

    Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
    Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

    Adrian Heath's American dream...

    Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
    Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
    Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

    A Syrian general speaks

    A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities