“You guys have got a lot of stuff going on in Texas,” 74-year-old music legend Paul Simon said during his concert on Sunday night at the Winspear Opera House.
He ought to know – his wife, Edie Brickell, is one of Dallas’ many native musical treasures. And he’s well aware of her preferred neighborhood.
“We decided we are going to look for a house in Texas,” he said. “Well, one of us decided. … We think Oak Cliff!”
Wild applause followed. Simon then gave us his punchline: “Well, it’s not going to be Highland Park.”
From the full house’s reception to the singer all night, it’s clear that he’d be a welcome new neighbor, wherever he landed.
With his large, veteran 9-piece band and no telling how many instruments at their disposal, Simon offered up many of his most iconic songs as well as a couple of newer gems.
Key moments during the set allowed the crowd to luxuriate in the infectious rhythms and bright melodies of the 1986 smash album Graceland. Simon began the evening by taking a Willie-Nelson-like approach to “The Boy in the Bubble,” following the heels of the beat. But he knew not to mess too much with “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” and “You Can Call Me Al,” all-out sonic celebrations positioned right before the encores to maximize crowd energy.
Up until that point, folks had remained seated and somewhat subdued, refraining from pulling out phones every second and instead choosing to keep all eyes on the stage. Imagine that.
But who needed a distraction when there were so many skilled players and moving parts? Just a few dates into this new tour, Simon and cast seem to be well-oiled and enthusiastic.
A chunk of material came from the equally percussive Graceland follow-up, Rhythm of the Saints, which deserves revisiting as much as its predecessor. “The Obvious Child,” “Spirit Voices” and “The Cool, Cool River” made for some of the most gorgeous musical stops on Sunday’s hit parade.
We also got nice morsels from Simon’s ‘70s and ‘early 80s stuff – “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” and “Mother and Child Reunion” featured successfully jammy endings, while significant blues muscle was thrown into “Slip Slidin’ Away.” And, of course, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” made the people happy from that first, unmistakeable intro beat.
Aside from “Homeward Bound” and an encore of “The Boxer,” there weren’t many references to the Simon and Garfunkel days. The set did tease some new material from Simon’s upcoming album Stranger to Stranger – the innovative and clever “Werewolf” and “Wristband” assured us the man is not done taking risks.
Perhaps there’ll be more time for new stuff and the more obscure stuff in future tours. The elegant Winspear provided a comfy home for old favorites this time around.