7 Minute Miles

Paul Simon at First Avenue

Posted Wednesday, May 4th, 2011 09:48 pm GMT -6 in Concerts, Music

The opportunity to see 69-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Paul Simon at the legendary First Avenue in Minneapolis for $50 was just too good to pass up. How many more times will that ever happen? I had to take some vacation time to make the mid-week concert, but I was glad I did. The new online ticketing site Etix worked perfectly when I bought the tickets and the will call system was smooth too – minimal lines at the multiple entry points.

This was obviously not your typical First Ave audience, which I discovered as soon as my neighbor Tim and I entered – people actually got there when the doors opened. We arrived a half hour later and the place was already jam packed. I normally like to stand by the soundboard, but we couldn’t get close to that. We ended up in a spot back by the rear bar and had a number of tall people in front of us, which sucked. Being by the bar at First Avenue is like being in the tenth row at a normal theater, though, so the view was still pretty decent (although the mobile phone picture above is crappy).

The crowded conditions took a back seat, however, to the sound. This was by far the quietest show I’ve ever seen there. This was a major problem for two reasons: 1) a lot of the songs were either acoustic or quiet on purpose and 2) way too many stupid people continue to talk during shows there. “Turn it up” became a rallying cry after almost every song. I’m just amazed the club allowed that to happen, but I guess the bright side was no ringing in my ears afterwards.

The ex-Mr. Carrie Fisher (and current Mr. Edie Brickell) was so fun to watch as he worked his way through the long set list (see below). He was quite short and seemed to be enjoying himself, even if he didn’t engage the crowd much between songs. At the very end of the show, he did introductions of the large band, but that was about it for banter.

I had heard samples from the new album, but have not purchased it yet. The So Beautiful or So What songs were all pretty good, but people obviously wanted to hear the old hits. Many of those were restyled, which was pretty cool (especially compared to people like Sting, who do the same thing over and over and over).

The highlight of the night for me was the solo acoustic version of The Sound of Silence that opened the encores. Almost everyone in the place shut up for that one, which added to effect (similar to when Tracy Chapman played Fast Cars there). The second encore closer was a perfect choice: Still Crazy After All of These Years.

Here is the full set list according to Jon Bream at the Star Tribune:

  • Boy in the Bubble (Graceland)
  • Dazzling Blue (So Beautiful or So What)
  • 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover (Still Crazy After All These Years)
  • So Beautiful or So What (So Beautiful or So What)
  • Vietnam (Jimmy Cliff cover)
  • Mother and Child Reunion (Paul Simon)
  • That Was Your Mother (Graceland)
  • Hearts and Bones (Hearts and Bones)
  • Mystery Train (Elvis Presley cover)
  • Slip Slidin Away (Greatest Hits, Etc.)
  • Rewrite (So Beautiful or So What)
  • Peace Like a River (Paul Simon)
  • The Obvious Child (The Rhythm of the Saints)
  • The Only Living Boy in New York (Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon & Garfunkel)
  • Getting Ready for Christmas Day (So Beautiful or So What)
  • Love Is Eternal Sacred Light (So Beautiful or So What)
  • Father & Daughter (The Wild Thornberrys Movie Soundtrack)
  • Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes (Graceland)
  • Gumboots (Graceland)
  • ENCORE 1
  • The Sound of Silence (Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. – Simon & Garfunkel)
  • Kodachrome (There Goes Rhymin’ Simon)
  • Gone at Last (Still Crazy After All These Years)
  • Here Comes the Sun (Beatles cover)
  • Late in the Evening (One-Trick Pony)
  • ENCORE 2
  • Still Crazy After All of These Years (Still Crazy After All These Years)

Jeers to the soundboard, but cheers to Rhymin’ Simon!

Originally published by DK on May 4, 2011 at 9:48 pm

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