When Paul Simon Dazzled on Opening Night of His Farewell Tour

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Paul Simon and his band performing “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” at Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC, May 16, 2018

There are so many memorable songs in the Paul Simon canon that concertgoers at the May 16, 2018, opening night of his farewell tour at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C., would be forgiven if they thought he had performed them all when the main set ended. But then the beloved singer-songwriter returned to the stage for an encore with three more favorites (plus a cover). He returned yet again for encore #2 with three of his best known songs. And after leaving the stage, there he was again with two more, closing the dazzling 25-song concert, aptly, with Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence.”

And so began what was billed as Homeward Bound – The Farewell Tour, a 42-date schedule that would take the 76-year-old Simon from North America in the spring to 10 dates in Europe and the U.K. that summer. After a break, the tour concluded with a final U.S. leg in September that ended in New York City. with two shows at Madison Square Garden on Sept. 20-21 and a final performance, on Sept. 22 in the borough of Queens. (For a while, the venue was listed as TBA and the speculation was that Simon would perform in Central Park, which he had famously done twice, once with Art Garfunkel in 1981, and again in 1991 as a solo artist.)

At Rogers Arena on May 16, Simon began with “America,” his first of six Simon & Garfunkel songs. Three songs in came the first of several from 1986’s Graceland.

Having created a distinctive body of work that includes 13 solo studio albums, plus five studio albums with Garfunkel, Simon is the recipient of 16 Grammy Awards, three of which—Bridge over Troubled WaterStill Crazy after All These Years, and Graceland—were Album of the Year honorees. In 2003, he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in Simon & Garfunkel, and has sold more than 100 million records worldwide.

During his career, Simon has earned 29 Top 40 singles in the U.S. alone, with 14 of those reaching the Top 10, including “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” (which reached #1), “Kodachrome,” “Loves Me Like A Rock,” “Mother and Child Reunion,” “Late In The Evening” and “You Can Call Me Al,” which ended the main set.

One of the reasons that Simon cited when he decided to retire from touring was the December 2017 death of his lead guitarist “and my friend of 30 years” Vincent N’guini. In February, Simon wrote, “Mostly, though, I feel the travel and time away from my wife and family takes a toll that detracts from the joy of playing.”

Watch him perform “Mystery Train” and “Mrs. Robinson” as part of the first encore

Watch the second of three favorites in encore #2, “The Boxer”

For the evening’s final number, Simon, alone, began strumming the familiar notes of Simon & Garfunkel’s first hit, 1965’s “The Sound of Silence.”

Thanks to qsysopr for the terrific videos!

Though the schedule marked the end of Simon’s touring career, he is still doing the occasional performance.

Paul Simon, May 16, 2018, Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC, Setlist

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover
The Boy in the Bubble
Dazzling Blue
That Was Your Mother
Mother and Child Reunion
Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard
Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War
Can’t Run But
Spirit Voices
The Obvious Child
El Condor Pasa (If I Could)
The Cool, Cool River
Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes
You Can Call Me Al

Encore #1
Homeward Bound
Mystery Train
Mrs. Robinson
Still Crazy After All These Years

Encore #2
The Boxer
Late in the Evening

Encore #3
Questions for the Angels
The Sound of Silence

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