Paul Simon's Homeward Bound tour second encore steals the show - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Paul Simon’s Homeward Bound tour second encore steals the show

WASHINGTON DC — Paul Simon, one of the hugest iconic stars of the star-packed 60s and 70s music scene, performed with his jazzy band to a mostly sold-out audience on Friday night at the Capital One Arena in Washington, D. C., as part of his Homeward Bound – The Final Tour 2018 tour.

The show was good but not great unless you waited for the second encore, which was super.  Some people didn’t wait for the second encore though since most performers don’t do second encores these days.  (Hint:  Wait until the house lights come up and stay up before you assume the show is over.)  But Simon threw a number of curveballs like that to the audience throughout the night.

Simon absolutely shined “like a national guitar” when he presented his songs with his acoustic guitar solo or when he was backed by the sextet chamber ensemble Music.  Those slower, more contemplative songs were the highlights of the evening.  Although he threw the crowd another curve ball when he did “Bridge Over Troubled Water” with an unusual percussive arrangement, he nailed the vocally challenging melody perfectly.  He said that he was doing the song that way because it made him feel for the first time that the song really belonged to him.  Considering “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is one of the greatest songs ever written in the 20th Century, who could blame him for wanting to reclaim it as his own at this stage of his career?

It was when Simon blasted through his faster solo hits and when he got bogged down in the more obscure numbers that the show was a little muddied.  When the supercharged electric guitars and brass kicked in, Simon’s voice seemed to peter out and it was almost buried in the mix.  While all the musicians played wonderfully, something was lost in the final product coming out of the speakers.   The problem with the show was that there were a lot of these songs strung together in a row.

Still, the second encore made it all worthwhile.  It made the show.  Simon mesmerized the crowd with a beautiful rendition of “Homeward Bound” and lead a church-like sing-along during the chorus of “The Boxer”.  He offered “American Tune” as a condolence to these crazy times, which, based on the audience response, was seemingly interpreted by many as a political statement against President Trump.  He finished the show with the solemn and softly sang “The Sound of Silence” while photographs from his long career flashed on the big screen behind him.  It was all very moving and made the price of admission worth it.

For anyone who missed the concert, this man may never pass this way again.  But Simon was throwing curve balls on Friday night in Washington, and he threw another one when he passed on to his fans the cryptic message that he might not be done touring if the right circumstances presented themselves.  Everyone interpreted that to mean that if he and Art Garfunkel teamed up again, he would tour.  Simon confirmed that reading with a slightly sly smile on his face.

About the author

Sean Tully is a Baltimore writer. He writes songs and he has written for the Arbutus Patch, Baltimore Examiner, and has had op-ed pieces appear in the Baltimore Sun. Check out his tweets. @SeanJohnTully Contact the author.

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