Paul Simon’s concert at the UNO Lakefront Arena in November 2011 was one of the most satisfying music events I’ve ever attended. I’d seen Simon perform before and I’ve seen him since, but no other Simon show, in my experience, matches the joy and in-sync musicality Simon and his band demonstrated at his UNO show. All the while, Simon’s artful songwriting and his ability to absorb worlds of music into his compositions are the foundation for his performances.
On July 15, 2012, eight months after Simon’s concert at the UNO Lakefront Arena, he headlined the closing night of the Hard Rock Calling Festival in London. The set list was much the same as the previous year’s New Orleans show. So was the spirit.
The Hyde Park concert, performed for 60,000 people, is available in the CD/DVD/Blu-ray package Paul Simon—The Concert in Hyde Park. Simon marked the 25th anniversary of his landmark 1986 album, Graceland, at the London event.
Following an engaging first set with his regular touring band, Simon reunited with South African musicians and singers who appear on Graceland and toured with him in the ’80s. The guests include Ladysmith Black Mambazo and trumpeter Hugh Masekela.
Disc one of The Concert in Hyde Park covers Simon’s post–Simon and Garfunkel solo career. Enduring old favorites show up, including “Kodachrome,” “Mother and Child Reunion” (with guest Jimmy Cliff) and “Me and Julio Down by the School Yard.” Simon also performs his high-spirited homage to zydeco, “That Was Your Mother.”
Disc two features Simon’s Graceland collaborators and most of the album’s songs. There’s more, including the only Simon and Garfunkel song of the night, Simon’s solo rendition of “The Sound of Silence.” But “Graceland” is the apropos centerpiece of the London performance. The audience, the performance and the anniversary combined make the Graceland concert in Hyde Park one of the most notable performances of the groundbreaking album.