The Simon & Garfunkel Story played to a sell-out crowd at the Opera House and Caroline Moody was there.
Bridge Over Troubled Water is a huge song in anyone’s book – and to pull it off in front of a sell-out crowd, many of whom will be Simon and Garfunkel Fans, is quite something.
Hats off then to Jonny Smart who was playing the part of Art Garfunkel in The Simon & Garunkel Story at the Opera House on Saturday night – the feat being all the more remarkable for the fact that this is his first role since leaving drama school.
The other – equally good – half of the duo was Dean Elliott in the role of Paul Simon. They played all the Simon and Garfunkel favourites – Mrs Robinson, Feelin’ Groovy, Homeward Bound, A Hazy Shade of Winter – plus many more besides. They included album tracks and some lesser-known songs that got them on their way to being the global stars they became. Apart from the opening number The Sound of Silence, the first song they played was Hey Schoolgirl from 1957 – when they were both 16 and were performing as a duo known as Tom and Jerry. Even then the formula wad the same – two men, one guitar and wonderful harmonies.
The information given was chatty and informal, adding to the enjoyment of the story, rather than distracting it by providing gaps. A backdrop photo montage set of the songs in their historical context – pictures of the real Simon and Garfunkel as well as what was going on in the world, and evocative black and white pictures of New York in the 60s.
There was also an upbeat medley of music which pointed tot the tracks that the artists enjoyed as solo artists, such as Gracelend and You Can Call Me Al. Here the excellent backing musicians Murray Gardiner, Leon Camfield and Josh Powell had the stage to themselves.
Dean and Jonny also looked the part. They occasionally changed their tops to reflect the changing era – all the way through to the 80s and the famous Central Park concert in 1981.
The audience loved them – they were clapping and cheering and when they left the stage we all knew there were two songs that had not yet played. After lengthy applause, they returned for Jonny Smart’s beautiful Bridge Over Troubled Water, for which he got a standing ovation, and they ended with The Boxer, which brought a well-deserved second standing ovation.
The World Cup may have started, but the Opera House is giving us a summer to remember – with sell-outs three nights in a row (Sunday and Monday being Lee Evans).
This was an entertaining, nostalgic and uplifting evening, and not just for die-hard fans. Absolutely superb.