April 28th, 2008 |


With a history of selling out Central Park and other massive venues, it may not come as a surprise that shelling out for tickets breeching three-digit price points makes a Paul Simon concert impractical for those living on a budget. But give Paul Simon a month-long residency at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, add some artists such as Grizzly Bear and Josh Groban, and you have a bill that draws an audience varied both in age and predilection.

At least, in theory.

As The Roches took the stage (three older women who were clad like the Rolling Thunder Revue had taken place earlier that evening), it became evident through a combination of thunderous applause and in-seat-dancing that the crowd was largely comprised of Baby Boomers.  Of course, this was not to be unexpected, but it did raise the question of how a group like Grizzly Bear would be received.

Comprised largely of two or three song sets, groups and artists took turns covering Simon’s material, occasionally being joined by Simon himself. This showmanship may have been lost on some of the crowd, but by and large, the response was always welcoming.

It was with no semblance of irony that as Grizzly Bear finished their lush, soundscaped versions of “Graceland” and “Mother and Child Reunion,” the audience took a nasty turn.  After genial applause, there was an uproar of whistling and clapping when the stagehands removed a set of synthesizers and effects pedals from the stage, shunning artists that Simon had invited to play over some sort of lust for acoustic purity.

The other artists didn’t have a chance to offend as their convention was more traditional, but as I stood at the back of the concert hall during the encore, the crowd screamed their approval for Simon when he sang a line about smoking a joint. I couldn’t fight the feeling that many of those who cheered the loudest no longer understood what they were cheering for.

— Austin Murphy