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Art Garfunkel At City Winery, Saturday, April 22nd, 2017, Reviewed

I caught this show in October 2015 at Carnegie Hall (here) and Garfunkel was still recovering from a terrifying four year loss of his singing voice. It started midway through a Simon And Garfunkel concert in New Orleans and effectively stopped his life in its tracks. But Carnegie Hall, while he treaded as gingerly as possible, saw him back and now, 16 months later, he is in much better shape.

Last night’s City Winery was the wrong guy in the wrong venue, the place is noisy, despite Garfunkel’s wise request to stop all food and drink service during his set, and while Art is surprisingly gentle with his audience, befriending those closest to the stage, and appreciative of applause, Carnegie Hall is a better fit: his falsetto is gentle, supple, and at times quite strong, it aims for depth and leanness, a far away sound that, as Art mentions in an anecdote, one of many, can even mesmerize cows. It is rock and roll anymore, it is a beatific glory. “I can go high and I can go powerful but I can’t do both at the same time,” he warns before a seriously restructured “Bridge Over Troubled Water”.

Still, this was better than the Carnegie Hall performance, he had straightened out his poetry, less lapidary and more structured he used it to move a peek into his life along. Gone was the intermission, this was nearly 90 minutes straight, the songs flowed smoother and lead more organically. It wasn’t, to my ears, a perfect Garfunkel: he doesn’t pay enough attention to his solo career, I would have preferred “Breakaway” to “Real Emotional Girl”. We didn’t get “99 Miles From L.A.” either, and while I appreciate his son, Art Jr, performing “Smile,” not at that expense.

As a performer, he is a little passive-aggressive: offering “some poetic pieces” with a “be careful, it will make you think.” For the most part they won’t make you think, but hearing ARt speak about Jack Nicholson acting in the great “Carnal Knowledge” is fun and important.  Still, I stand by initial sense that like a river it will flow… song to song, like those Rabbis over 60 years ago in tears and in prayer as this blonde haired Jewish boy made the ancient melodies come alive. It is still a gift from God. Just seeing it again is less of a thrill.

Grade: B

 

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