ROGERS ARENA, FEBRUARY 20, 2014
Paul Simon broke a few hearts when he and longtime collaborator Art Garfunkel cancelled their Vancouver show in 2010 due to the latter’s vocal cord issues. Perhaps that explains why the 72-year-old Simon has now chosen to tour with the 62-year-old Sting, whose voice remains strong despite the passage of time.
This double-billed show found the two aging stars performing a single set in which their bands frequently shared the stage. Often, one of the singers would depart and allow the other to take over, while other songs were performed as duets. When the two groups were together, they formed a massive ensemble of more than a dozen players.
The pairing accentuated the strengths and weakness of the two songwriters. Sting has a far more powerful voice with a much larger range, and he dwarfed the diminutive Simon in both stature and singing ability whenever they duetted. Simon on the other hand, has much better songs, meaning that his solo sets far outshone Sting, particularly when he played classics like “Graceland” and “You Can Call Me Al.”
Even without the music, the pair could have worked well as a stand-up duo, since Simon earned laughs by asking the chiseled Sting, “That’s a muscle suit, isn’t it?”
The predominantly grey-haired audience seemed equally enamoured with the two performers, although most folks spent almost the entire night sitting. That being said, there were a few wild and strange sights to be seen: in my section alone, there was a couple who were repeatedly ordered to stop dancing in the aisle, a drugged-up dude who annoyed his neighbours with moves that resembled a slow-motion headbang and a guy who unleashed caveman bellows of delight when Sting sung lead on “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
In other words, for fans of Simon and Sting, this was a night worth hiring a babysitter for.
By Crancely Lorlangler
Photo by Sarah Whitlam