Bridge Over Troubled Water
was always going to be A Moment. But as Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel traded verses on pop's greatest consoling anthem towards the end of this first show of their Auckland two-nighter, it became Really Quite Something Else. The sound system - possibly overcome by its own electronic lump in the throat - gave out, leaving just the stage-sound and a slighty confused looking Simon and Garfunkel.
The crowd took over. And just as it built to its final crescendo, the sound came back up. Big finish. Aaah. Sigh.
"That was the nicest thing an audience has ever done for us" remarked Garfunkel.
Yeah well at these ticket prices, folks weren't going to let a technical gremlin get in the way of hearing their favourite S&G tunes, even if they had to sing them themselves.
Not that this often remarkable, often magical concert lacked for anything up to that point. True, Garfunkel's solo set came with some troubling aspects - that gloopy ode to myxomatosis
and more worryingly, a "new song off my latest album" - which played havoc with the middle of the show's momentum. And the tall still curly-haired one isn't the choir boy he once was either, his singing having lost some of the old varnish.
But somehow it didn't really matter. Maybe because so many of Simon's S&G era songs invoked images of approaching winters and time passing, a little wheeziness sounded fitting.
And they looked to be getting on just fine. Garfunkel was the eager-to-please frontman ready with a quip and thoroughly engaging for it. Simon on the other hand was a small bundle of effortless musicality, his vocal phrasing and acoustic guitar playing undiminished by the years and his own solo turn taking in
Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard
, and the South African-inspired
Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes
. When Simon donned a fedora, bent his knees and just grooved on his guitar, the years fell off him. It was enough to make you wonder: how did this folkie get so funky?
Well, on this night, a cracking backing band of revolving membership and versatile skills - one guitarist also played cello, baritone saxophone and tin whistle too - certainly helped.
The set focussed largely on the S&G era of the second half of the 60s - though with a brief excursion to their teenage partnership as Tom & Jerry, their 1957 single
showing just how much they wanted to be the Everly Brothers (by effectively rewriting
Wake Up Little Susie
And while the show's sideline history lesson also took in Buddy Holly and Gene Vincent songs, it was how they breathed life into the songs and sound of their own era which took this beyond nostalgia.
Up early the likes of
I Am A Rock
Hazy Shade of Winter
were more blast than past;
seemed to have been retrofitted with a
Sound of Silence
shifted neatly from the sparse acoustic original to the folk-rock jangle which made it a hit while
Only Living Boy in New York
was a thing of utter beauty with its dreamy swirl of harmonies.
Add jaunty versions of
in the encore after the dramas of
and this became a show as affecting as that by any of the elderly rock gents that have been down this way in recent times. Yes, this was right up there with Neil Young at the Big Day Out.
No, they didn't play
Keep the Customer Satisfied
. But they sure did a whole lot more than that.