Homeward Bound: Paul Simon's final tour

Homeward Bound: Paul Simon's final tour

Do you have a musical bucket list? Yanno…musicians you want/need to see before they or you die? I know it’s more than a little morbid but if you’re in my age range (mid-60’s) and you grew up listening to the musicians of the 1960’s-70’s, you aren’t going to get many more chances to catch some of the legends.

Last year I picked up a couple that were on my list. I saw Bob Dylan (blah) in Chicago and took a road trip to Vegas to see my guy Joe Walsh (awesome)! This year there’s a few more I’m going to check off. Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra fame comes to Rosemont in August. Bob Seger says he’s healthy now and is resuming his previous concert tour that he had to cancel. In December, he’ll also be in Rosemont. And last night, there was Paul Simon….finally!!!

I love Paul’s music, both with and without Artie, so you would have thought I would have seen him years ago. Me, too. It just didn’t happen.

He’s been touring regularly and comes to the Chicago area often. Two years ago, he was at Ravinia, which is one of my favorite venues but I was ill and couldn’t make it. Last year, he played at that Chicago lakefront venue which always reminds me that our former Mayor tore down Meigs Field airport in the middle of the night. I could have gone then but there were nasty storms all day and night. The concert went on but at this point in life, I’m not sitting in lightning to listen to music. It’s not 1969 and the Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island is not Woodstock. I’m not still crazy after all these years….well maybe only a little.

Simon is touring again this year. He says it’s going to be his final one but lots of musicians say that and continue touring so we’ll see. He’s now 76 years old so at least he’s going to slow down. I had this feeling that seeing him in concert was a now or never type of thing. Last night was now!!

One great thing about seeing an artist whose career has lasted for decades; there’s enough of a range of songs that it brings you back to many stages of your own life.

“The Boxer” and “The Sound of Silence” are from my youth. “Mother and Child Reunion” brings back my college years. “Graceland” takes me back to when my now adult children were infants. I imagine the other twenty thousand concert goers had their own memories.

Simon was backed by a fifteen piece band that was gifted…and that’s understating it. Whatever instrument you can imagine was on stage at some point during the show.

From accordions to recorders. Lots of percussion, brass, guitars and singers. The band rocked, then took it down slow, then brought you back up again. They did this for twenty-five songs. They did this for more than two hours. As Simon said a couple of times, “That’s live music, people.”

As for Simon himself, I have seen him on television recently and was worried his voice was gone. That wasn’t the case. Sure, he can’t hit all the notes like he did decades ago, but who can. His vocals fit his age and fit his songs.

The concert was far from one of those laid back events where all you hear is song and song after song (think Dylan). Simon was engaged with his audience, mixing in the occasional life story between the tunes.

This has been billed as the final tour. Simon says he’s done with concerts after this. A lot of musicians of his generation say that and continue doing shows, so we’ll see. He mentioned that because this is his last tour, he’s not sure what’s next. He has no idea what he’ll do when it’s over. Maybe he’ll know it when he sees it and figures it out then. Hey Paul, we can relate to that. A lot of us feel that way.

If this really is the end, Paul Simon is going out big and on his own terms. I look forward to seeing what’s next. Will there be another act or is he really going to be “Homeward Bound.”

Here’s the setlist from Wednesday’s concert.

Related Post: Do you have musicians you want to see before they or you die?

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