Exeter, Devon UK • Sep 23, 2023 • VOL XII
Exeter, Devon UK • Sep 23, 2023 • VOL XII
Home Music An intimate evening with Art Garfunkel

An intimate evening with Art Garfunkel

5 mins read
Written by


Art Garfunkel
The Royal Albert Hall


There’s a certain peculiarity that comes with seeing a sixties icon in their old age performing in 2015. Whether it’s Paul McCartney, The Stones, The Who, or The Beach Boys, young people (and I am not innocent of this either) seem to display a certain level of irony before they see these golden oldies in concert. I am not sure where this really comes from. Perhaps it’s catalysed by the expectation that these artists won’t quite be at the same level as their prime, which is almost inevitable when you consider the age of the artists concerned. Needless to say, what better way is there to go see Garfunkel (minus Simon) than with your mum?

I remember that there was a lot of mums and sons there, with some of those older looking than the Albert Hall itself. This observation was confirmed by a man sitting next to us, who turned around to me at half time and asked “who dragged you along here then?” Irrespective of this, and my attempts at retaining a level of ‘cool’ irony, my inner self was weeping for joy when I saw Art emerge from behind the stage to begin the show.

his voice was like butter melting on pancakes

It has been widely publicised that Garfunkel had completely lost his voice in 2011, and had to subsequently undergo surgery. This worried me a little, especially as he began his set by reading a poem, a bit pretentiously, and in a rather raspy voice. I really hoped my memories of listening to Simon & Garfunkel LPs wasn’t about to be tarnished by a bad recreation of the songs by only one half of the duo.

Thank goodness I was wrong.

Immediately after the poem, the acoustic guitar chimed, and he immediately broke into “April Come She Will”. Not only was Garfunkel’s voice “good for a 73 year old”; his voice was simply astounding. It was like butter melting on pancakes, and almost sounded even better, sweeter and softer than his original performances.

Immediately after this classic, he broke into another one, “The Boxer”. Considering the bare instrumentation (voice, guitar, and piano) the huge crowd’s focus was entirely on stage. With hits like these (albeit not composed by Garfunkel) you don’t need a flashy band. Their power lies in the simplicity of their compositions.

Image Credit: wikimedia

Image Credit: wikimedia

The rest of the set was an oscillation between the duo’s 60s hits and Art’s solo works, and each worked fabulously. We even got a spot of Simon style harmonising, with the introduction of Art’s son, Junior. Although this part of the show was a little sentimental and tacky for my taste, I couldn’t resist the Everly Brothers cover they performed, in tribute to the late Phil Everly.

The last half of the set was truly a transcendental experience. Art performed “Bright Eyes”, “The Sound of Silence”, “Kathy’s Song” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. His voice never faltered, and it was a gig where you could just truly close your eyes and listen to a truly magical voice, reminding yourself of why you fell in love with the music in the first place. Yes, there was no Simon. Yes, he didn’t write most of the songs. Yes, we would all much rather see a Simon & Garfunkel reunion. Yet, there was something so beautiful and magical about seeing one of the greatest artists of all time, from a band of another era entirely, performing. Although one could accuse it of being tame, Art gave it all he had, and he ended up sounding better than on record.


Oliver Thompson

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