In a concert seemingly dreamed up by classic rock fanatics and anyone who appreciates the craft of singer-songwriters, Paul Simon and Sting graced the stage of The Forum in Los Angeles this Saturday night. Performing songs from one another’s solo careers as well as selections from their former groups, it comes as no surprise the collectively enterprising Simon and Sting found kindred spirits in the performance rather than the de facto nostalgic kick.
As the lights dimmed on the stage promptly at 8 P.M. Sting and Simon entered the stage. There’s no need to hassle with opening acts, unless Tom Petty and Jackson Browne were opening (That combination was my idea, you heard it here first folks.) Sting, a sleek, guitar-slinging extraterrestrial bowed an expression that read, “Why, yes. I will make you hold out for anything from Outlandos D’Amour.” Simon, in all his elfin glory, wafted on to stage whilst strumming along to a jaunty “Brand New Day”.
After dueting on a few Sting songs, the duo warmly greeted the audience, explaining in short their touring thus far and how experimental and awakening it had been for them. “I think it’s great for us, because we both know what we want to get out of performing by the end of this tour,” said Sting. “Personally, I hope to have the body of Adonis and to be serviced with constant sex for three weeks.”
The format of the show went as such – Sting and Paul Simon would interchange performing approximately 4 songs by themselves, the other would appear on stage to do a duet for a song or two, and the other would be whisked away backstage. It worked incredibly well, even if it felt Sting was slightly indulgent in his hit-or-miss 80’s solo catalogue.
However, the show was predominantly Paul Simon oriented, as it should be. There’s no contempt on this end for Sting, but the line in the sand is drawn as such – Paul Simon is clearly the superior songwriter and showman. Sting expressed the highest esteem for Simon many times during the show, as did Simon in reciprocation. Ultimately that’s what worked so well for the show – two celebrated singer-songwriters who deeply appreciate one another’s work and whose styles melded seamlessly.
The band, comprised of both Simon and Sting’s touring bands for some years now, was in top form. Switching from bombastic pan-flute synthesizers for Sting, to zydeco, world, and so-called adult contemporary for Simon, the transitions were flawless.
It was a genuine treat to indulge in classics such as “Message In A Bottle”, “Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard” and a spectacular cover of “Mystery Train”. The fellows put on a show for their fans, while still respecting their solo careers outside of Garfunkel, Summers and Copeland. Watching Simon and Sting perform together made your forget they weren’t a two-man act in the 70’s – a great pairing nonetheless. For two artists of such high caliber, it’s heartening to see that they are willing to be ambitious in such an endeavor. Hopefully their eagerness to perform together in an innovative way will spark interest in other singer-songwriters to do the same – perhaps a Michael McDonald/Trent Reznor split bill?
Born and raised on classic rock and oldies, Jake Tully consumed music voraciously growing up in Central California. He has his wonderful grandparents to thank for his love of music, as well as the amazing luck to have seen hundreds of concerts in his lifetime. He considers himself an eclectic consumer of all media, and further reading can be found at his blog.