paulsimon12345.jpg
Paul Simon

Showbox at the Market

Sunday, April 17

30 minutes before Paul Simon and his eight-piece band took the stage at the Showbox to

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Paul Simon and Eight Friends Played the Showbox Last Night: "Do You Know How Insane This Is?"

paulsimon12345.jpg
Paul Simon

Showbox at the Market

Sunday, April 17

30 minutes before Paul Simon and his eight-piece band took the stage at the Showbox to re-imagine one of pop music's great catalogues, the Cave Singers' Derek Fudesco was waiting for a drink at the bar, and asked: "Do you know how insane this is?" In fact, said the Seattle guitarist whose band is headlining the venue on Saturday night, "I drove all night from Sacramento to see the show."

Seattleites who saw Paul Simon perform in 1999 probably saw him play the Gorge with Bob Dylan. Those who saw him open his tour to support So Beautiful or So What, on Friday, watched the show at the cavernous, lifeless WaMu Theater. That he played the 1,100-person club that is Seattle's Showbox at the Market is beyond description. The intimate setting for the roaring show was, according to the thunderous applause from the audience, worth their $50, and, according to Simon's testimony, worth the greatly diminished paycheck. "It's great to be playing a club," Simon said in all earnestness after wrapping up the classic "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover."

There's something remarkably human about a megastar like Simon playing in such proximity to his fans in a show that is neither a private, high-paying benefit nor a warm-up for a grander occasion. While there is perhaps no better way to drive buzz for a new record or tour than by switching it up and playing surprising venues in a series of dates across the country, as Simon is, there was a feeling in the air tonight that his motivation was more than his long-tail receipts. It was, in fact, part of his career trajectory of switching things up.

Simon is one of the few '60s hit-makers performing today who need not rely on nostalgia to fill a room. Last night, he didn't even let the '80s and '90s grow tiresome. Every song was re-cooked, framed specifically for the ensemble he brought on the road and the condition of his gracefully aging vocal chords. He preceded his hit "Mother and Child Reunion" with a rendition of "Vietnam," the Jimmy Cliff song (he explained) that inspired him to travel to Jamaica to write the former. He breathed fresh life and a new arrangement into the crowd-pleasing "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes"; made room for new songs like "Waiting for Christmas Day" alongside Graceland favorites such as "Crazy Love"; and in his lone foray into his years with Art Garfunkel, he appeared onstage solo, picking at his guitar while singing "The Sound of Silence."

Simon's at the beginning of a tour in support of a brilliant new record, and shows no sign of slowing down. But the evening had a feeling of monumentality and generosity (he shook hands with audience members in the front row) that made it seem like a farewell tour. There are, it should be said, few better ways to leave a lasting impression than what Simon did last night.

Reporters Notebook:

Overheard in the Crowd: "Fuck the wine-and-cheese crowd," said an old friend before the show. His comment was in reference to the young, standing-room-mostly crowd at the Showbox compared to the seated affair Friday night at WaMu.

Personal Bias: Last night's show felt as significant as Bob Dylan's Bumbershoot 2010 set. I don't know that I can chase the dragon and see either of them again.

Set List Includes: My notes are not great here. Please, please help me fill in the holes!

UPDATE: Think I've got the set list right now. Thanks for the help, y'all.

The Boy in the Bubble

Dazzling Blue

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover

So Beautiful or So What

Vietnam (Jimmy Cliff cover)

Mother and Child Reunion

The Afterlife

That Was your Mother

Hearts and Bones

Love and Hard Times

Rewrite

The Obvious Child

Getting Ready for Christmas Day

Crazy Love Vol. II

Love Is Eternal Sacred Light

Father and Daughter

Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes

Gumboots

Encore: Solo

Sounds of Silence

Encore 2: Band

Kodachrome

Here Comes the Sun (Beatles cover)

Encore 3:

Late in the Evening

Still Crazy After All These Years

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