Paul Simon, SECC, Glasgow <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

Though he found fame as part of a duo with Art Garfunkel, Paul Simon did as much as Bob Dylan or James Taylor to create the singer-songwriter template. He also formed a strong bond with the UK during his days on the folk-circuit here in the mid-Sixties and seems happy to be back in Glasgow. "Thank you for coming, it's been a while," Simon tells the audience after opening with "Gumboots" and "The Boy in the Bubble" from Graceland, the 1986 album that did so much for world music.

On Surprise, his current, critically acclaimed CD, Simon collaborated with sonic landscaper Brian Eno, and sings the funky "Outrageous" with its recurring motif - "Who's gonna love you when your looks are gone?" - as if he were David Byrne of Talking Heads.

The gentle "Slip Slidin' Away" features Mark Stewart - who is sporting a kilt, much to the delight of the Scots crowd - strumming his electric guitar gently with a paintbrush, and segues seamlessly into the rockabilly shuffle of "You're the One" and then the dreamlike "Train in the Distance" from Hearts & Bones, his underrated 1983 album.

Now 65, Simon can look back fondly at the golden age of doo-wop and the songwriters housed in New York's legendary Brill Building where he used to cut demos as Jerry Landis. He takes a detour via "How Can You Live in the Northeast?" from Surprise, touches on gospel with "Loves Me Like a Rock", namechecks zydeco accordionist Clifton Chenier on the cajun-flavoured "That Was Your Mother" and even sings "Duncan" from the Paul Simon album (a UK-chart topper in 1972).

The gorgeous "Father and Daughter" shows that the songwriter can address the middle-age issues so many of his contemporaries have avoided tackling, and "Cecilia" sends the nostalgic fans into paroxysms of delight as handclapping breaks out all over the arena.

The capacity crowd brings Simon and his band back for the irresistible "You Can Call Me Al", "Still Crazy after all these Years" and the evergreen "Mrs Robinson". The audience joins in "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and seems ready to break into a conga at any point during "Late in the Evening". An entertainer of the old school who follows his muse but is equally loath to disappoint his long-standing fans, Simon looks quite teary as he sings "The Boxer".

Wembley Arena, London (08704 000 688), 10 November; NEC, Birmingham (08707 300 196), 11 November

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