Music: And here's to you, Mrs Garfunkel ...

ART GARFUNKEL LONDON PALLADIUM
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The Independent Culture
ART GARFUNKEL is a canny picker of partners. Singing a couple of Jimmy Webb numbers, he introduced them as being by his tennis partner.

His current partner, his wife, is his backing vocalist and came on in a white raincoat with a go-go outfit on underneath.

I guess when your husband is 56 and a former superstar you need to keep him on his toes. He introduced her as "the love of my life", which is more than he ever said of his most famous partner, his erstwhile sparring partner, Paul Simon. But thankfully, Simon's songs made up much of the evening. It was after all what most of the audience had come for.

Around the time they split up, Simon said revealingly that it burned him up to watch Garfunkel getting rapturous applause for "Bridge Over Troubled Water". It was after all his, Simon's, song. Watching him perform it last night, he actually looked remarkably good. The golden halo of hair still tops a pretty athletic shape; and with his tie knotted well down a white shirt draped over a pair of blue jeans, this looked from the back of the circle at least, like the guy from a few decades back.

The beautiful tenor voice isn't quite as effortlessly angelic as it once was; but it still has a soothing tenderness most evident in setpiece numbers such as "Bright Eyes" and "Scarborough Fair". The latter, he reminded us, may be an English folk song but he wrote the melody - "the counter canticle" (and this is the first time I have ever heard that phrase used at what could loosely be termed a pop concert.

Garfunkel has always been more mainstream than Simon and one saw a small indication of that when he introduced one number as "the weirdest song Simon and Garfunkel ever recorded." It was "Poem On The Underground Wall", about someone spraying a four-letter word on the subway, interesting but not really that weird. This is the duo that did, after all, sing a pop paean to an architect once.

Paul Simon, in one of his periodic fits of paranoia, has stopped touring, thinking quite wrongly that he may not have an audience out there. Art Garfunkel showed there is a real desire to hear the songs. But they each bring a quite different quality to them. Garfunkel and his proficient band last night made both "Cecilia" and "Mrs Robinson" sound like nightclub standards. Simon, continually experimenting with new musical styles, can make them sound contemporary and even a little dangerous.

But when performing "Bridge Over Troubled Water", unquestionably the highlight of the evening, Garfunkel did seem to be discovering the song again, reaching its climax with highly charged emotion.

Garfunkel is doing this tour inorder to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, and plays at Croydon tonight and Birmingham tomorrow. It's middle of the road stuff, but performed so well and tinged with enough memories to make it really rather enjoyable.

This review appeared in later editions of yesterday's paper

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