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on September 20, 2012
Paul Simon is the consummate artist/musician; a guy that still cranks out fantastic new music after 50+ years in the business. For me, it was a no-brainer to pick up this new CD/DVD combo package. I've been a Paul Simon fan since I was a kid, and I've been to more than a few of his concerts, including the opening show for this tour (Seattle, April 15, 2011). The music from the Webster Hall concert does not disappoint. The band is tight, Simon is in excellent voice, and the song set is outstanding! My only regret is that some major tunes performed that night were cut for this release: Vietnam (a song by Jimmy Cliff), Mystery Train, Wheels, Peace Like a River, Questions for the Angels, Road to Nowhere (with David Byrne) and You Can Call Me Al(with David Byrne). The saddest deletion for me is Mystery Train. I heard Simon say on "Center Stage" (talk show in NY) that Mystery Train is his favorite Rock N' Roll song, and in another interview, he said that 60% of his music is based on Mystery Train. Amazing! No wonder there are so many Elvis references in his movie "One Trick Pony". Anyway, it would have been great for Paul to make all the songs from this wonderful Webster Hall concert available on this release. Nevertheless, what is released is exceptional and well worth buying.
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on September 15, 2016
5 Stars for Songs selected for this concert and the musicians - I'd give it 6 if I could! Fabulous concert and the versions of these songs are fresh and stunning! The musicianship from all - absolutely top notch and a pure joy to witness.

Lost a star because the sound is really disappointing; most of the tracks sound like two not very dynamic or detailed channels playing the same thing, so it sounds like mono, with few if any spacial cues. Many instruments can't even be heard at different points of the concert. I've got a killer system and on most DVD's, I hear nearly everything. This one is just not mixed well or recorded well perhaps. Something went wrong. Fortunately, you can hear Paul's voice well, the really awesome bass player's riffs, great drums, exceptional lead guitar and other essentials. However, a lot of other pieces that you see, you just don't hear. On top of that, what you do hear is not up to today's expectations in terms of dynamics, detail and depth. This will sound like the worst mid-fi, at best, even on a hi-fi system.

Having whined sufficiently about the sound, I'd still buy this again and highly recommend it because the concert itself is so darned good!
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VINE VOICEon April 1, 2013
I have seen the DVD of this concert literally hundreds of times now, and for one simple reason -- it has become my two-year-old son's favorite. Little did I know that my plan to start playing a bunch of different music DVDs for him would never get past this disc, which was the first one I put in. From the minute I pointed to the drummer in the opening riff of "The Obvious Child", the first song on the DVD, and said "Look, drums!", my fate was sealed. I don't know if I will ever be able to watch anything else on TV, this is all the boy wants to see.

And the interesting thing is, I don't mind. I like Paul Simon a lot, and I've seen a lot of the concert DVDs, including the two Simon and Garfunkel reunion shows in Central Park and Madison Square Garden. This is very different and in my view it's one of the best concert recordings I've ever seen. Paul Simon looks a lot older, but he sounds better than ever.

The musicianship is outstanding. Everyone is a multi-instrumentalist, and there is real inventiveness here. I was particularly impressed that the grand piano at stage right was transformed into prepared piano for "Rewrite" to emulate the sound of the kora on the original recording. Or the piano player playing the inside strings of the piano like a cimbalom. Or the saxophonist/flutist/glockenspiel player in the back. Or the accordion/keyboard/trumpet guy. Or the drummer/slide guitar player.

Old hit songs are transformed into new creations while staying true to the original spirit. There are layers upon layers of arranging and playing to really sit back and enjoy. And the tracks from his most recent studio album are among the best in the show, showing a combination of rhythmic complexity and tunes that you just can't shake out of your head.

Paul Simon still has it, both as a writer and performer. And I still don't mind fulfilling my son's constant requests. "Drums!", he shouts, and starts playing air drums with the opening bars. I join him, settling in for a rerun of one of the best shows I've seen.
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Never heard a bad concert of this man. He has so much talent and his miraculous songs make everyone smile, whether it's from memory or knowing that the words will stay with you. The band is tremendous as you would expect and of course have to be able to switch between the genres. Really worth the money and a great way to spend the evening.
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VINE VOICEon September 19, 2012
Paul Simon's music has been a part of my generation's life for so long that it's possible that he's taken for granted by some. This magnificent collection of songs, none from what I consider his lovely, though musically immature, S&G period - save for an obligatory Sounds Of Silence and the resurrected Only Living Boy From New York - stands as a testetament to Simon as songwriter. There is a reason why he was awarded the Gershwin Prize for American Popular Music my friends. And that reason is that his singular muse, his distinctive style, his constant and continual pursuit of new musical vistas has made him the country's greatest composer of popular song. Yes - above Bob Dylan, and on equal footing with Stephen Sondheim.

The songs included in this concert rank with Simon's best, particularly those from So Beautiful or So What. Dazzling Blue is an exquisite gem, and The Afterlife retains its vitality and witty rhythmic wordplay ("hey, what you say, it's a glorious day - by the way how long you been dead? Maybe you maybe me maybe baby makes three but she just shook her head")

The Obvious Child starts things off with a slower tempo than the original - bringing a sense of majesty to its powerful rhythmic foundation. No slowdown for That Was Your Mother - it remains joyful, and its shufflin' Cajun rhythm will still make you jump up and dance. And its during this song - the sixth on the CDs - that the band gels into a groove and really comes alive. Slip Slidin' Away has more poignancy now that our generation is in its fifth or sixth decade. I could go on and on.

That said, it should be noted that Simon himself seems to be thoroughly enjoying himself - something not to be taken for granted. Never a dynamic performer who seeks to ingratiate himself with his audience (i.e., the You're The One DVD) Simon relies on the music itself to do that. In this show SImon seems happy and more than comfortable on stage. As well he should be - his band remains an extraordinary ensemble who do justice to the quality of the music they are presenting.

If you are an old fan you will love hearing the Graceland songs, Kodachrome, and Still Crazy After all These Years - songs that have retained their beauty and have gained "classic" status. If you are relative new to Simon's recent work you are in for a treat. This is mature popular music in the finest sense of the word. Simon's craftsmanship never quite leads your ear to expected places, and his lyrics are smart, witty, and meaningful.

Reading this over, I realize that this sounds awfully serious and somber, where I really meant to be respectful. So let me just end by saying that this set is a lot of fun. It contains joyful music that will bring back memories of your youth, and give you pause to celebrate the moments of today.

If this is how terribly strange it is to be 70, well, I'm looking forward to it.
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on August 6, 2016
Anyone who has seen Paul Simon perform live in recent years is already aware that he has put together a band that perfectly compliments his music and has a level of musicianship which is off the charts. This cd proves it, so if you HAVE seen him live it's a perfect way to enjoy the memory over and over....and if you HAVE NOT seen him live buy this cd and then anxiously wait for him to come back to town so you can see for yourself just how engaging and moving the live interpretations of the Paul Simon catalog can be. This one will stay in the car for a long time....
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on February 14, 2013
Paul Simon is one of my favorites, so of course I snagged this album. Overall, it's a good listen. My biggest gripe is that I usually expect live performances to be either rather faithful to the original version, or to do something entirely unexpected with the song. Most of the songs on this album fall under the faithful header, and those songs work well. Unfortunately, most of the songs that fall under the "do something different" header are the Graceland songs, but in this case I don't think the new arrangements work. In fact, it's somewhat fascinating to hear what Graceland might have sounded like if Paul had never enlisted the talents of South African musicians and instead made a normal "American" record. And of course I have 25+ years of listening to Graceland to put me firmly in a box of what it's "supposed" to sound like, but all-in-all I didn't care for the arrangements of the Graceland songs here. They lack the effervescence of the original South African musicians. In some cases, I would even say the songs are robbed of the beautiful fusion of cultures by making them "too American," and the result is just awkward.

Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes has a rather lame opening a capella segment that tries to capture the exquisiteness of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, but instead ends up being a slow Gospel-ish number complete with hand claps, and it's really just sad. Luckily, the remainder of the song is quite enjoyable, and manages to remain faithful to the original while embellishing here and there for a bit of flavor.

Throughout the performance, Paul also deviates from the vocal melodies we are used to, and usually that's something exciting but in my opinion Paul is a little too liberal in the ad starts to sound like he's singing a harmony part and the lead mic is turned off. Or maybe he's trying to show everyone that he can still hit those notes in the high register with grace, even at age 70 (and yes, he can...that is one of the joys of the album).

All that said, it's a fine group of musicians playing an outstanding set of songs to an energetic and appreciative crowd. I don't regret my purchase, and I've enjoyed it a number of times already, but this is probably one that's for the fans. Give it a once-over on Spotify before committing to the purchase if you're curious.
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on May 25, 2017
Great DVD of a great concert
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on November 21, 2012
I first saw this amazing performance during a fund-raiser for PBS. I immediately notified numerous friends & strongly urged them to do their best to seek it out & watch in their local areas. This intimate little musical gathering is probably the most explosive "live music" DVD I've ever had the pleasure of watching! One would fully expect Paul Simon to summon a first-rate set of players, but this goes far beyond that, as this incredibly tight, well-rehearsed & versatile band of amazing virtuosos kicks it from the very beginning and never once lets up! It's a delight to watch them switch instruments, share incredible licks and bask in the obvious energy on that stage! Paul Simon's vision, artistry & incredible voice at this point in an amazing career stamps a tremendous exclamation mark on the genius of his art!
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on February 6, 2013
Despite some undeserved controversy over Paul Simon's decision to go to South Africa and work with South Affrican musicians, Graceland was a revolutionary recording. No one had combined African music and musicians with Western music in so seamless a fashion. Seldom have words and music been so artfully combined with a hefty serving of wry observation and humor.

This live CD consists of songs from Graceland along with songs from recordings that preceded and followed it. Many of the musicians participated in the recording of Graceland and reunited for this concert. The musicians' appreciation for Paul Simon and for each other shines through the performance. The DVD is equally compelling as it tells the story of how Graceland came into being and what happened after its release.
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