Live review: Art Garfunkel, Usher Hall, Edinburgh

The word ‘legend’ is bandied about way too often these days, but Art Garfunkel is a legend in the truest sense. Known around the world as one half of one of the greatest musical duos of all time – Simon & Garfunkel – the 73-year-old native New Yorker has lent his honey-tongued vocals to some of the greatest pop songs ever written – including Bridge Over Troubled Water, Mrs Robinson, A Hazy Shade of Winter and The Boxer, to name just a few.

It’s unlikely Simon & Garfunkel will be reuniting any time soon, what with Garfunkel describing his former bandmate as a ‘monster’, but it’s not impossible. In a recent interview, he said he’d love to be reunited with his old pal, but still can’t understand why Simon felt the need to go solo at the height of their fame in the Sixties.

“It was very strange,” said Garfunkel. “Not my choice. Nothing I would have done… I love that the world still loves Simon & Garfunkel, but it seems very perverse to not enjoy the glory and walk away from it instead. What I would have done is take a rest from Paul, because he was getting on my nerves. The jokes had run dry. But a rest of a year was all I needed.”

That they’re still having that ‘rest’ all these years later saddens fans, but at least the pair are touring as solo artists, with Simon recently going out on the road with Sting, and Garfunkel currently on a UK tour that brought him to Edinburgh’s Usher Hall this week.

Garfunkel’s appearances in the Capital are rarer than hens teeth, so Thursday night’s gig in the Capital was always likely to be something of an event. And so it proved.

Taking to the stage to a heroes’ welcome, Garfunkel proceeded to play a pared-back show in front of a packed crowd who weren’t entirely sure of what to expect from a singer who many feared they’d never see live again after he damaged his vocal chords five years ago when choking on a piece of lobster.

Fortunately, during a set that offered one classic song after another, Garfunkel, who was backed by his good pal Tad Lavin on guitar, showed he can still hit the right notes, effortlessly.

The performance saw Garfunkel play a mix of solo hits such as Bright Eyes and 99 Miles From LA and covers, but, predictably, it was Simon & Garfunkel favourites like The Boxer and Sound of Silence which got the biggest cheers from a rapt audience.

Admittedly, the show lost pace when he read a handful of iffy prose poems, but all was forgiven come the climatic, spine-tingling rendition of Bridge Over Troubled Water, sung so beautifully it brought the entire venue to its feet.

Words: Marius McKee