Part bard and all heart, music legend Art Garfunkel worked his audience at Boston’s Berklee Performance Center with humility, poise and a humorous smattering of self-deprecation, knowing this show was a stepping stone toward the recovery of his gorgeous singing voice.
“I know I should be taller, I know I should have more hair. This is what you get,” the 72-year-old told the crowd to hearty applause. From that moment on, Garfunkel got to work combining his ethereal vocal talents with bits of reflective prose in an intimate performance that combined poetry with tunes that defined generations.
From the Simon & Garfunkel songbook, no stone was left unturned. Over 80 minutes, Garfunkel conquered “April Come She Will,” “The Boxer,” “Scarborough Fair,” “Homeward Bound” and the beautiful “For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her.” Backed by acoustic guitarist Tab Laven, Garfunkel was careful not to over-stress his vocals, but rather let it sweetly complement Laven’s soft nylon string plucks.
From his solo catalogue, Garfunkel also covered his bases magnificently, treating the audience to “A Heart in New York,” “All I Know,” “Bright Eyes” and “99 Miles From L.A.,” among others.
Interspersed with the songs were Garfunkel’s thoughtful anecdotes about life, family, marriage, favorite songwriters and of course the creative yin to his artistic yang, Paul Simon. From a story about how Simon, in 1964, crafted his “sixth song ever,” Garfunkel transitioned into a somber yet evocative “Sound of Silence.”
After a brief question and answer session, Garfunkel and Laven tackled a “workshop” version of his show’s finale, “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Knowing the limits of his previously paresis-afflicted voice, Garfunkel kept the tune to two verses but it was enough to garner a standing ovation.
“I wasn’t sure I was happening here tonight,” he quipped with a sigh of relief and a smile.
Big understatement—for as this show demonstrated, Art Garfunkel is happening again and for always.
– Ira Kantor