070506 Paul Simon/Jerry Douglas, Montreal, QC

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On July 5th, 2006 m’lady and I drove to Montreal to see Paul Simon.  Our friend Jojo came along as well, though I’m pretty sure he didn’t have a ticket to the concert nor was he looking for one.  But no matter, it was jazzfest week so there would be plenty to see and do in all directions surrounding the Salle Wilfred-Pelletier theatre, a complex aptly titled Place des Arts.

If I’m remembering correctly, before the concert we (or maybe it was just Jojo) found a wallet on a park bench.  Without touching the wallet, Jojo sat down next to it basically to “guard” the lost wallet until its owner returned.  (I should add that there is a foreign object jammed into this memory – much like Leia’s secret message to Obi-Wan that was jammed into the front of R2’s control panel – that is trying to convince me that the three of us had found a different wallet just a few days before this, and somehow the way that one had worked out had directly led to Jojo’s decision to not touch this one.)  The owner did return and found his wallet unmolested but he was somehow quite upset about Jojo sitting next to it.  Strangely, he thought it was Jojo’s way of stealing his wallet.  Sometimes I have a hard time understanding people.

It wasn’t until I looked in my ticket book just now that I discovered that the wonderful Jerry Douglas opened this concert.  Heck of a pairing putting Douglas on stage in front of Simon…too bad my memories of his opening set land somewhere between “fleeting” and “made up”.

I do, however, remember Paul Simon’s set with relative clarity.  And while I had seen him before and was fully aware that his talent is a mile high and ten miles wide it wasn’t until this concert that I appreciated how skilled and impeccable Paul Simon is as a guitar player.  Standing on the stage with his voice open wide you’d think he treated the guitar as an afterthought but man, when I focussed in on his acoustic work I was stunned by his placid accuracy.  The arpeggios in Duncan were perfect, so too in The Boxer.  His rhythms underneath Cecilia and Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard were incessant and immaculate.  Like, I know he’s been doing it for a long time but still.

And his voice!  Still Crazy After All These Years is such a masterful tune…it’s as close to jazz as Paul Simon is going to get and he sings it like it is jazz.  Sorta the same goes for Slip Slidin’ Away.  But I suppose I can be forgiven for thinking of Paul as a songwriter first.  Graceland, Bridge over Troubled Water, Loves Me Like a Rock, Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes*…the guy has had a magical career.

All in all it was a wonderful show.  I don’t know what Jojo did to keep himself busy outside but I suspect he had almost as much fun as we did, as he tends to do.

*Though I suppose in some cases it’s more accurate to think of Paul Simon as more of a song finder/arranger than songwriter.

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