Friday, April 11, 2008

Paul Simon at BAM

As the internet commenters say, "First!" After a sighting of one "T. Plush" (no wait, that's too obvious-- it was "Tex. P."), last night, there has been a feverish battle to be the first one to blog the living shit out of the show we saw last night. So here I am.

Paul Simon's got a monthlong residency at BAM with three sets of concerts, each of which is basically a hybrid concert and tribute. This one was "Under African Skies," so it was entirely songs from Graceland and the intermittently awesome/weak Rhythm of the Saints. Ladysmith Black Mambazo was there in full force, as were several African (and one Brazilian) singers who sometimes sang lead on the various tunes. All in all it was fantastic-- the backing band was phenomenal. He still has the same bass player from Graceland (who plays those awesomely rubbery fretless bass licks, as well as the Seinfeld theme-esque slap breakdown in "You Can Call Me Al") , and guitarist from Saints. And there were something like five percussionists who played various and sundry instruments. The groove was airtight-- something the boys in Vampire Weekend (who were in attendance, "predictably," per Tex) could learn from (not that i'm hating).

By far the highlight for me was David Byrne, who first danced awkwardly and tall-ly while he sang backup during "Born at the Right Time." That was awesome because it reminded me of what I would do if I were in his position.
But then he took the lead on "I Know What I Know," and even more awesomely, "You Can Call Me Al." I do hope some enterprising soul managed to film this and puts it up on youtube, because it was fantastic. Imagine what it would sound like if David Byrne sang "You Can Call Me Al." Amazingly, that's exactly what it sounded like! Though that seems redundant, it doesn't quite capture how much it sounded like a perfect mash-up of "Once in a Lifetime" and "You Can Call Me Al." I kept expecting him to segue straight through "Who will be my role model? Now that my role model is gone. And you may tell yourself, this is not my beautiful house! And you will tell yourself, this is not by beautiful wife! But if you'll be my bodyguard..." It was great. Afterwards he got on his bike.

Related question: Adrian Belew played guitar on Talking Heads' Remain in Light. (Amusingly, I believe he also did some session work on Graceland). After playing with Bowie and the Heads, Adrian Below joined Robert Fripp in King Crimson. I have always written off King Crimson as proggy wanking (without having heard it, in fairness), but apparently the first album they put out as the revamped King Crimson, Discipline, is not proggy at all, and actually continues in the new wave worldfunk vein of Talking Heads, et al. Does anyone have it? How is it? I'm looking your way Dr. Kittybrains...

1 comment:

Via Chicago said...

Paul Simon is a guy I've always been conflicted on. At times I love him, and times he irritates the crap out of me. I mean, take Simon & Garfunkel - in theory I appreciate them, but then when I try to listen to something like Scarborough Fair it's just so cheesy. That said, The Boxer totally rules.

Solo Simon I prefer. Lots of good songs in his early work, and Graceland is an album that I would at least consider if I was making a top 10 album list. I'd probably not include it in the end, but I'd think about it. Back when Phish used to do those Halloween tribute shows I always secretly wished they would do Graceland - sure it would be absurd, but come on - good stuff to be had for sure.

This concert does sound pretty awesome though, and it's good to see David Byrne doing something interesting, as I do love that guy. I'll be intrigued to hear more thoughts.