Review: The Simon and Garfunkel Story, Ipswich Corn Exchange

The Simon and Garfunkel Story

The Simon and Garfunkel Story - Credit: Archant

Simon and Garfunkel were considered the most popular folk duo of the 1960s and in spite of their tendency to keep splitting and then making up have sold millions of records; continuing their career up to 2009 when Garfunkel developed serious vocal cord problems and had to stop touring.

I came across them at the height of their fame in the early 1970s, but by that time they were on the verge of splitting as a creative duo having completed their final album together, Bridge Over Troubled Water. Yet for me, and many others of the 1970s, they became our comment on life too – and their insightful lyrics and haunting melodies have remained with me ever since.

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel met at school in 1953 and became firm friends. Influenced by the Everly Brothers, in 1957 they formed their first group, Tom and Jerry, and had a minor rock ‘n’ roll hit with Hey Schoolgirl. In 1963, after going their separate ways for a while, they started playing the folk circuit with a more stripped down style and released their first album Wednesday Morning 3am.

It was not until The Sound of Silence took off as a single and hit number one in the US in 1965 that they started to find fame. It was the film The Graduate and the hit Mrs Robinson that finally propelled them to stardom. However, by that time their continuing artistic differences were driving serious wedges between them and by the time of their multi-million selling release Bridge over Troubled Water in 1970 they had effectively split.

This touring musical tribute basically covers these years – and with slide projections and song attempts to tell the story while giving us all the main hits the duo released. Dean Elliot – who found fame as the original Buddy in The Buddy Holly Story sings Simon – and is joined for this part of the tour by Jonny Smart singing the role of Garfunkel.

Opening with The Sound of Silence, this was obviously going to be a musically pretty accurate tribute to the duo – who were known for their tight harmonies and lyrical melodies. Looks wise the boys are more like the original Tom and Jerry from high school. Smart admitted he had left Garfunkel’s iconic curly hair “in the shop”. As they ran through the songs – I Am a Rock, Cecelia, Bookends, Scarborough Fair, Hazy Shade of Winter, Cathy and Homeward Bound – you could close your eyes and imagine you were listening to the real thing.

They are backed by a great band of talented musicians - Leon Camfield, Josh Powell and Murray Gardinar, who create the perfect musical backdrop to the iconic sounds.

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Finishing with Bridge over Troubled Water and The Boxer, this was a superb evening that showed again why this troubled duo sold so many records and were such groundbreakers in bringing folk music into the main stream pop culture.

Suzanne Hawkes

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