"sublime harmonies; intelligent, bitter-sweet lyrics"
by Avril Silk for remotegoat on 10/07/18

It’s paradoxically very hard to warm up an audience sweltering in a heatwave, so hot they can barely clap along even to their favourite songs. As I gratefully sipped the cold water so kindly provided by Taunton’s Brewhouse Theatre, I sat in a crowded auditorium and watched ‘The Simon and Garfunkel Story’ and I could only imagine how it felt to be the musicians, in costume, under the lights, giving this marvelous show their all.

I love the music of Simon and Garfunkel – particularly the rock end of their astonishing repertoire. A large screen behind the musicians provided a visual record of my early life; the music was the soundtrack to it. The on screen images scarcely needed captions – they were carefully chosen and woven together prompting all the memories so safely tucked away in my mind.

I was nine years old when Bill Haley burst onto the airwaves with ‘Rock Around the Clock’; three years later I saved up and bought my first single – Marty Wilde’s ‘Endless Sleep’. I haunted Mr Wookey’s second hand record shop on Gloucester Road in Bristol, and spent all my pocket money on ex-jukebox singles, particularly the Everly Brothers, Eddie Cochran and Elvis. Watching the images and listening to the carefully devised narrative written by Dean Elliott, I realised just how much we were all influenced by those fabulous musicians. Musical Supervisor Dean, with original Director David Beck, also directed the show.

As Philip Murray Warson (Paul Simon) and Charles Blyth (Art Garfunkel) told the story of one of the most enduring, albeit sometimes troubled, sometimes acrid, friendships in the history of music, the sheer abundance of their talent, and that of their inspirational muses, amazed me. We were treated to sublime harmonies; intelligent, bitter-sweet lyrics and the ability to share a serious, even dark message with a lightness of touch that kept us engaged and enthralled.

I liked that the music was centre stage. Philip and Charles looked the part; Charles with a commanding stage presence suggesting Garfunkel’s more outgoing personality; Philip with the reticence and seriousness that characterises Paul Simon. However, they did not try to speak as Simon and Garfunkel. That would have over-egged the pudding. This show was all about the music.

All my favourites were played and sung beautifully – ‘Homeward Bound’ ‘Baby Driver’ ‘Bye, Bye Love’ ‘The Sound of Silence.’ ‘America’. I particularly loved ‘The Only Living Boy in New York’ and ‘Mrs Robinson’. The musicians, bassist Leon Camfield, drummer Mat Swales and Adam Smith on lead guitar and keyboards, are consummately talented. The group worked together impeccably. To my less than young ears, the volume level was perfect and the articulation a joy.

As an incorrigible lover of lyrics, with a ridiculously retentive memory, I love to sing-along, so when, towards the end, we were invited to join in with a special favourite, ‘The Boxer’, I was overjoyed, and so was everyone else.

We had a fabulous time. I did not want it to end. Thank you all for a joyous experience!

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