Paul Simon charms Dunedin crowd

Paul Simon in concert at Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday night. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Paul Simon in concert at Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday night. Photo by Peter McIntosh.

Paul Simon enchanted Dunedin tonight with a two-hour performance at Forsyth Barr Stadium that reverberated through the decades.

It was a free-wheeling, homeward-bound stroll down memory lane, accompanied by one of the world's great songwriters.

"Hello, my friends. I believe this is the farthest south we've ever been. It's so beautiful,'' Simon, wearing his trademark pork pie hat, told the crowd.

The 71-year-old, backed by a big, tight veteran band of merry instrumentalists, ploughed a trail stretching back to the genesis of the electric guitar and mined a golden seam of nostalgic nuggets along the way, including Diamonds On The Soles of Her Shoes, Slip Slidin' Away, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, Kodachrome/Gone At Last, Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard, Hearts And Bones, You Can Call Me Al and So Beautiful or So What?

The double Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee didn't miss a hit as he charmed the crowd with a free-wheeling performance at the indoor arena.

The New Jersey-born, Connecticut-based singer-songwriter has, remarkably, produced a solo album every five years, on average, since 1965 and he flicked chapters at will; from 1965's The Paul Simon Songbook to 2011's So Beautiful or So What?

A highlight was his 1986 opus Graceland, which was saved for the encore, but the climax was the chilling opening bars of that familiar refrain, "Hello darkness, my old friend''. Every time Simon plays The Sound of Silence it feels like a moment frozen in music history.

He also plucked freely from his Simon and Garfunkel years (1964-1970), playing The Only Living Boy In New York and The Boxer, and he even covered the Beatles' Here Comes The Sun and Bo Diddley's Pretty Thing.

Paul Simon, with guest artist Rufus Wainwright, plays again at the Vector Arena in Auckland on Monday.

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