Art Garfunkel: An Evening of Song and Stories, Symphony Hall, Birmingham - review
There are few artists who can tug at the heartstrings and move a crowd quite like Art Garfunkel.
He is an incredible writer, using language in both song, verse and prose to weave intricate tapestries - and each of his tremendous works mesmerised the audience last night at his Birmingham show.
The Simon and Garfunkel icon performed to a packed-out Symphony Hall with a variety of songs, anecdotes and extracts from his autobiography.
And though the star said at the start he feared it may not ‘work’, it was outstandingly effective, captivating the room from start to end.
“I can’t believe I’m still doing this,” said the 77-year-old artist as he strolled on to the stage.
“I’m very nervous, I have to warn you. After all these years the stage nerves never go away - who knew?”
But the eight-time Grammy Award-winning star had nothing to fear; his set of songs by Paul Simon, himself, and other songwriters including Randy Newman went down wonderfully, receiving not one, but two, standing ovations.
Kicking off the show with Simon and Garfunkel number April Come She Will, Art sang beautifully, and was accompanied for the entire show by just an acoustic guitar player and keyboardist.
Admittedly, there were moments where the New Yorker seemed to struggle during songs - on parts of The Boxer, for example - but it mattered not; he had the venue completely enchanted and his iconic sound was still very much there.
Art’s eldest son Arthur Jr joined him on a few numbers, with angelic vocals which reached incredible heights and worked beautifully with the voice of his father.
Throughout the show, the audience was treated to an array of stunning performances of some of Art’s biggest hits, from Scarborough Fair; to Homeward Bound; For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her; Bright Eyes; and Bridge Over Troubled Water.
Woven between many of these songs was readings from Art’s autobiography What Is It All But Luminous: Notes from an Underground Man, in which he told tales of his life in such a beautiful manner that the whole crowd sat in stunned, almost spellbound silence.
Throughout his set, Art thanked his father and God, speaking of ‘the giver’ and ‘the gift’.
But it could not have been clearer last night that Art is the gift - one which has inspired and moved generation after generation for more than 60 years.
He is an incredibly talented icon and the crowd was absolutely Blessed to see him perform so spectacularly in the flesh. Superb.