Paul Simon's next tour will be his last

'It feels a little unsettling, a touch exhilarating, and something of a relief'

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Monday 05 February 2018 20:27
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Paul Simon performing at the legendary Central park concert in 1991

For someone whose music has frequently been dominated by themes of homesickness and the search for place, it is astonishing to consider that Paul Simon has been travelling and touring for the best part of 50 years.

Now, the singer-songwriter who was once married to the late Carrie Fisher, has declared he has had enough – though not immediately. The 76-year-old said a 19-date tour later this year of North America and Europe would be his last.

“I’ve often wondered what it would feel like to reach the point where I’d consider bringing my performing career to a natural end. Now I know: it feels a little unsettling, a touch exhilarating, and something of a relief,” he wrote on Facebook.

He said he had made the decision as he felt “the travel and time away from my wife and family takes a toll that detracts from the joy of playing”. The death of his friend and lead guitarist, Vincent Nguini, was also a factor.

He said he envisaged he would still do occasional performances “in a (hopefully) acoustically pristine hall”.

Simon’s musical roots reach back to the 1960s folks clubs of New York, where he polished his gift for setting graceful melodies with lyrics that frequently had the ability to pierce and bite.

Sir Elton John plans three-year world tour before bowing out of live performing

His decade-long partnership with Art Garfunkel, who brought an elegant falsetto to the working relationship, resulted in now classics such as Mrs Robinson, The Boxer and Bridge Over Troubled Water. The pair who originally met in elementary school in Queens, New York, fell out, bitterly, in 1970 and split.

They reunited several times for recording sessions and concerts, perhaps most famously the 1981 Concert in Central Park, which attracted up to 500,000 people. At the time, the free performance secured the largest ever concert attendance.

While Garfunkel has also recorded and toured as a solo performer, it has been Simon’s efforts, especially Graceland, his 1986 investigation of South African township sounds, and 1990’s The Rhythm of the Saints, which examined Latin American musical styles, that have secured the greater critical acclaim.

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Simon’s announcement came just weeks after Elton John declared he would be making a final three-year farewell tour, and Neil Diamond said he was suffering from Parkinson’s disease and would retire from touring.

Tickets for Simon’s “Homeward Bound – The Farewell Tour” are due to go on sale imminently. It will begin in May in Vancouver, Canada, and will take him across North America and Europe. His last date is July 15 in London with James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt listed as special guests.

Simon concluded his post, by saying: “Once again, I am very grateful for a fulfilling career and, of course, most of all to the audiences who heard something in my music that touched their hearts.”

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