Soulful Art Garfunkel lyrical as ever at Waterfront Hall
PITY the poor singer-non-songwriter, you might think. He doesn't write the songs, he just belts them. He doesn't get the credit for composing genius, he doesn't get the royalties. But in the case of Art Garfunkel, he interprets the creativity that marked his and Paul Simon's golden years from the late 1960s to the 1970s.
Crowding the Waterfront Hall in Belfast last night were legions of fans of those televised Central Park gigs, those hymns to New York and the urban way of life. So while it may not be his scores in the back catalogue, songs like The Boxer summoned up that city boy mood to perfection. For Garfunkel, his still moving voice (which he recovered after losing it a while back) is best in the upper register and now uber-husky in the middle and can still conjure up worlds of song. Scarborough Fair was pretty wonderful, although gappy when the voice lucked out yet lyrical as ever with some new embellishment. He said in introduction it was all about loss, and he's not wrong. The melancholy remains sweet, however, even reassuring.
The night was not musical archaeology and we heard The Side of the Hill, an unfinished Paul Simon anti-war song of great force. The tale of the buried boy near Somewhere where a war is raging somehow gained topicality from the recent image of the drowned little boy Aylan Kurdi in Turkey.
Among the new twists, we heard Art Garfunkel jump up the octave at some points to head for his strong vocal territory and add some extra la-la-la to the famous whores on Seventh Avenue line in The Boxer.
We were reminded throughout that although Paul Simon wrote the music, those duets didn't happen without this guy's soulful voice. Part two was stronger, containing a moving Bright Eyes and a terrific duet with Mr Garfunkel's singer son, Arthur Junior. The men got together for a very nice rendition of the Everly Brothers' Let it Be Me. At this point you realized two remain better than one and with Art Garfunkel senior the best harmoniser in the business, it was a moment. My one criticism is why include the self-indulgent poems?
Musician Tab Laven accompanied Garfunkel beautifully on acoustic guitar. And before the sound of post-show silence, we got a deserved standing ovation for a man who's just a bit of a legend.