It had already been a particularly difficult week by Tuesday afternoon but I managed to find the energy and the money to head into London after work to see Paul Simon at the Hammersmith Apollo. He'd played Glastonbury that weekend and during the interview with the BBC he'd spoken about the fact that he wasn't entirely well and had a problem with his throat, but alarm bells didn't go off until I reached the venue and was greeted by the theatre's staff handing out flyers announcing that the show had been postponed till the next night. So I got straight back on the bus for another 2 hours to get home. I was so angry that I contemplated staying home the next night and getting a refund on the ticket. Money's a bit tight at the moment and the thought of shelling out another £20 in transport costs (when I'd already spent £85 for the ticket and transport the first night) made me feel a bit ill. However, Wednesday was a better day at work and I wasn't completely wrecked by the end of the school day, so off I went again. Right decision.
On the Tuesday night I'd been approached by a similarly disappointed guy at the venue who wanted to commiserate with me since 'I was the only other young person there'. Once the full audience had arrived on the Wednesday night , it was obvious that those of us in our mid to late twenties were not out of place. We were out of place the previous night because unlike most people our age, we didn't have access to email on our phones and hadn't read the postponement email prior to heading off for London. This is my punishment for actually wanting to be slightly disconnected.
I was angry right up until the lights dimmed. But Paul Simon and his 8 musician band walked out on stage and opened the set with Crazy Love Vol II from Graceland, and I just couldn't stay pissed at the little guy. During the BBC interview he'd spoken about how he was using the theatre tour to play the new album, but there couldn't have been more that 2 or 3 new songs in the set. It was very much a 'best of' night. Graceland is my favourite album. To this day, when I listen to it, I am thrown back to childhood memories of dancing around the living room on my Dad's feet. There isn't a weak song on the album and despite its age, it doesn't sound at all dated, particularly when recreated by such an impressive band with a stack of different instruments on stage. Obviously I wanted to hear the Graceland tracks, (and Gumboots and That Was Your Mother were particularly impressive) but the best part of the night was that it included every one of my favourite non-Graceland tracks. 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, Hearts and Bones, Slip Sliding Away, The Obvious Child, and appropriately placed in the 2 encores, Late in the Evening and Still Crazy After All These Years. It's an achievement to get a seated theatre up and dancing, but the guitar riff that follows the vocal intro for Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes had everyone in the venue on their feet and dancing.
Since Simon's spent recent years doing a couple of major reunion tours with Garfunkel, I wasn't expecting any Simon and Garfunkel tracks. Since I was lucky enough to see them perform when that tour made it to Sydney a year ago, I wouldn't have been disappointed if he hadn't touched that part of his catalogue. But midway through the set he did The Only Living Boy in New York and dedicated it to Artie. I don't think there's any Simon and Garfunkel track that I like more than that particular song. Maybe The Boxer. He also began the first encore by playing a brilliant version of The Sound of Silence solo and acoustic. By the time they hit the second encore, I'd forgotten about the previous night's disappointment, but just to seal the deal, he threw in a cover of my absolute, hands down, favourite Beatles track, Here Come the Sun. The night moved towards a close with my favourite track from Graceland, The Boy in the Bubble. I regret not videoing the crowd up and dancing at the end of the night. He very rarely plays You Can Call Me Al live anymore, but the postponement seemed to inspire it's inclusion as the closing number. I swear, by the end, a very polite mini moshpit of guys in their late 20s had formed in front of the stage.
I haven't suffered from a lot of homesickness so far this year, but I really wish that my parents could have come with me to this. They would have fucking loved it.