Spellbinding musical memories at The Simon & Garfunkel Story (Wimbledon Theatre)

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Posted by May B on Friday 23rd of January 2015




Simon & Garfunkel provided the background music to my childhood – my parents constantly played their music. So it’s no wonder that I knew the vast majority of the lyrics to many of the songs that featured in this show. But what was surprising was just how many of them – stretching over a couple of decades – that I knew and loved. And I was seriously impressed by the almost flawless and versatile performance of this brilliant music and the poetic, intoxicating songs.

It’s a simple but powerful production. Dean Elliott as Paul Simon provides perfect vocals and some inspirational guitar playing. A young Jonny Smart as Garfunkel, despite looking a little uncomfortable on stage at times, supported him with some astonishing harmonies that matched the originals. Then there’re a lively bassist, a drummer and another musician who alternated between guitar and keyboards.

Behind them was a large screen where an inspired selection of photos evoked both joyous and painful memories of political, musical and entertainment historical highlights demonstrating how ubiquitous and enduring these musicians were. We didn’t really need to see the facts and figures confirming that Simon and Garfunkel were the most successful folk/rock duo of all time although I was surprised to learn that they had the best-selling album in 1970, 1971 and 1972.

The show opens with a spellbinding version of “Sound of Silence” and some powerful black and white images to support “He was my brother”. Then they start right back at the beginning in 1957 when two 16 year old New Yorkers recorded a rock and roll number.

The stripped back harmonies of “Kathy’s song” shifted into “I am a rock” (what brilliant lyrics) and then echoed the themes of the times with tracks such as “Bright Green Pleasure Machine”, an electrifying version of “Patterns” and the delicacy of “The dangling conversation”. It was a delight to hear “Scarborough Fair” performed so beautifully and the first half ended with the playfully uplifting “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)".

The second half started powerfully with “Mrs Robinson” and moved onto Bookends’ classics “Hazy shade of winter”, “Old friends”, “America” and “Fakin’ it”. The pace livened again with the audience clapping along to “Cecilia” and “Keep the customer satisfied” before the narrative explained about the duo’s split. After “The only living boy in New York” there was a tantalising photo and musical montage showing the different routes pursued by the singers. We all joined in with “Call me Al”.

Focusing on the Central Park Concert there were excellent versions of “Baby driver” and “Slip sliding away”. A cover of The Everly Brothers’ “Bye Bye Love”, an awesome and tear-jerking version of “Bridge over troubled water” and “The Boxer” rounded things off nicely.

The eclectic and ecstatic audience provided a standing ovation at the end. It was well deserved.

It was a one-off performance at Wimbledon but the tour does include other London accessible venues including: the West End on 8th February, Bromley on 4th March, Chelmsford on 3rd May, Barking on 16th May and Windsor on 14th June,

The New Wimbledon Theatre is a beautiful old traditional theatre – with rich, ornate decoration and plenty of seats which offer a surprising amount of leg room. And it’s just a 10 minute walk from Wimbledon train and tube station. There are some interesting music, drama and other productions scheduled so it’s worth taking a look at the web site.

Further information:
http://www.thesimonandgarfunkelstory.com/
http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/new-wimbledon-theatre/

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