Paul Simon | Live in New York City (Hear Music/Concord Music Group)

paulsimon livenycHe’s completely at home on stage and looks like he’s ready to continue performing for another 40 years or so.

 

Webster Hall, built in 1886, is one of New York City’s most storied venues. Located on 11th Street, not far from Astor Place, it was early a site of radical politics and Bohemianism. It served as strike headquarters for the International Ladies’ Garment Workers in 1916, and as a meeting place for the Sacco and Vanzetti defense committee in the 1920s. Webster Hall was also the site of cultural events and Bohemian attended by the likes of Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray. During Prohibition, it was rumored to be owned by Al Capone, so freely did the alcohol flow. More recently, it has provided a venue for musicians from Tito Puente to Tina Turner to Guns N’ Roses.

On June 6, 2011, Paul Simon and an eight-piece band performed a concert at Webster Hall. Chances are you weren’t in the audience (the Hall’s capacity is about 2,000), but you can have the next best experience with the DVD/2 CD set of the concert recently released by Hear Music and Concord Music Group. The selections are well chosen, with the main concert a nice mix of the old classics—“Mother and Child Reunion,” “Slip Slidin’ Away,” and more recent material (“Rewrite,” “The Afterlife”)—while the encores  are, not surprisingly, more of a nostalgia-fest—“The Sound of Silence,” “Kodachrome,” “Still Crazy After All These Years,” and more. Martyn Atkins’ direction on the DVD preserves the intimate feel of the venue and doesn’t try to do more than present the concert, but in this case, that’s all you need. The sound on both the DVD and the CDs is excellent: Listening to them is the next best thing to being in the audience.

I haven’t always like everything Paul Simon has released, but I really like this album, which shows the man at his best. He’s completely at home on stage and looks like he’s ready to continue performing for another 40 years or so. If by chance you have a friend (or a child) unfamiliar with the work of Paul Simon, this album would be a good way to introduce them to his music, and if you’re a lifelong fan, you’ll enjoy it, as well. A | Sarah Boslaugh

RIYL: Graceland; Born to Sing: No Plan B; The Singer

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