More of a musical review than a musical, The Simon & Garfunkel Story headed to St David’s Hall on 15th June, backed by its success in the West End and upcoming World Tour. This show summarises the reclusive duo’s rise to fame through the 1960’s and eventual split at arguably the height of their success in 1970 by combining poignant moments in modern history with their music and own life stories. A neat idea, as most people tend to play their music in their heads when mentioning them; little has been written or indeed discussed of their actual life.
As an opening song, The Sound Of Silence is as serene and atmospheric as they come. The guys playing the duo are Gregory Clarke as Paul Simon and Joe Sterling as Art Garfunkel, two musical theatre performers with a strong background in the arts. To try and emulate the duo’s iconic harmonies and tones is a remarkably difficult feat, and they do manage to get them down, but it feels rather like a karaoke as the two guys stop singing and talk about the duo’s life history with a chronic enthusiasm. Each song leads deftly through the history of the world as iconic images and videos are projected above the stage (Armstrong’s Moon Walk, Martin Luther King, Jr’s “Dream” Speech, Nixon’s Resignation) as their music guides the audience through these key moments; a swift and appeasing staging of their music, carefully and thoughtfully pieced together to create the show.
It comes as no surprise when certain songs are played (Scarborough Fair/Canticle, I Am A Rock, America to name a few), and these garner worthy rounds of applause as the crowd are roused by the experience. But, it’s other songs that seem to keep the momentum going, with focus on the duo’s early years as a Rock ‘n’ Roll duo named Tom & Jerry, covering the big bopping hits of the time, especially their favourite and harmonic heroes The Everly Brothers’ Bye Bye Love. They play songs from the duo’s biggest selling albums, Bookends and Bridge Over Troubled Water to end the show, with an inevitable encore featuring the latter’s title track and The Boxer. The backing band play along with gusto as they often drown out the softer vocals of the duo, which is most unfortunate during the more evocative lyrical parts.
As a piece on the duo’s history, it’s very effective in its chronicles of their rise in popularity, with relatable images and video clips reminiscent of the era. As a show, it seems almost too karaoke as the two guys singing just seem to be enjoying the music rather than trying to emulate either singer. If you’re a fan of their music (as well you should be!), then it’s definitely worth seeing. If not, then it’s still definitely worth seeing!
A moment of musical history, succinctly captured.
To see more of what’s on at St David’s Hall, see their packed events calendar here.
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Image credit: The Simon and Garfunkel Story Facebook page