Concert Review: Paul Simon

Paul Simon played at SDSU's Viejas Arena on October 22.

By Sarah Pacitti

Paul Simon
SDSU’s Viejas Arena
October 22, 2011

I grew up listening to Paul Simon. I remember singing “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and Kodachrome before I even knew what the term “kodachrome” meant. When I was younger, I danced around the house with his music in the background, I hummed his songs in the shower, I blasted his songs in my car as soon as I could drive. To this day, that really hasn’t changed. There are certain songs that carry special memories along with them, those songs that, as soon as they are played, bring you back to a very specific moment in time. His songs are “those songs” for me.

I went to see Simon and Garfunkel during one of their reunion tours with my parents as a teenager. I remember enjoying it, but also thinking it was just not enough and that I wanted to hear more. So, I made a promise to myself that I would hear this music performed live again. I fulfilled this promise on Saturday, October 22, at SDSU’s Viejas Arena, where Paul Simon performed songs off of his newest album, So Beautiful or So What, as well as many of his classics.

From beginning to end, Simon fully impressed the audience. His band backed him so powerfully – all eight members full of passion and excitement. Looking around at the crowd, it was easy to see that every person had a story behind the songs being played.  His music is nostalgic, moving and legendary. The lyrics always tell a story, and often times are used to help others tell their stories, too.  I have a friend who once told me, “I remember ‘Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes,’ was playing on the drive home from the hospital after my younger brother was born.” Another friend once said to me, “My mom and dad always sing ‘You Can Call Me Al’ to one another when we are on long family car rides.” He has helped many of us retell or remember a story.

He strummed through his classics, never missing a beat and engaged with the audience over and over again. His new songs off of So Beautiful or So What were equally as impressive, especially his performance of “Love and Blessings.”

During his encore, Simon performed a cover of The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” an astounding and truly beautiful rendition of George Harrison’s work. And then came an acoustic performance of  “The Sound Of Silence,” yet another part of the concert where I watched and listened in total awe. While studying in Florence for a semester, my roommates and I would go to one of the piazzas and listen to a street performer who would play Paul Simon covers. The acoustic songs he would play echoed throughout the streets. On one of our final nights, we listened to him play “The Sound of Silence.” While in the arena, just for a moment, I let Paul Simon help me get back to that memory. And by looks of it, while in that arena, it was clear to see that Paul Simon helped take many back to beautiful little life moments. Afterall, his music always tells a story, and often times, helps us remember our stories, too.