Bridge to a golden songbook

First Night: Art Garfunkel London Palladium
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The Independent Online
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 present partner, his wife, who is his backing vocalist, came on in a white raincoat with a go-go outfit on underneath. I guess when your husband is 56 and an ex-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 Simon's, song.

Performing last night, Garfunkel actually looked remarkably good. The golden halo of hair still tops a pretty athletic shape; and with 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 counter canticle".

Simon has stopped touring thinking, quite wrongly, he may not have an audience out there. 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 "Cecilia" and "Mrs Robinson" sound like nightclub standards. Simon, ever experimenting with new musical styles, can make them sound immediate and even a little dangerous.

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