Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 Bookends Simon and Garfunkel Through the Years Review Tuesday 8th August


Simon and Garfunkel: Through the Years by Bookends (aka Pete Richards and Dan Haynes) returns to theSpace @ Symposium Hall (Venue 43) for the fourth consecutive year, and their shows are selling out fast, so if you want tickets, book them now to avoid disappointment.

Why of all the productions on The Fringe is a show about Simon & Garfunkel music proving to be so popular?  Well the answer to that is two things; 1 – the sheer quality of Simon & Garfunkel’s songs, and 2 – the quality of those songs as performed by Bookends.

If you are expecting to see a Simon & Garfunkel tribute show with two guys dressed up to look and sound like your musical heroes then you are coming to the wrong show.  Dan and Pete look absolutely nothing like Simon & Garfunkel and neither of them would ever consider mocking their musical heroes or their music with such an approach.  What these two guys do is simple in its approach but very difficult to pull off in its delivery; they strip these classic songs back to arrangements that suit two performers and nothing else.  There are no gimmicks on stage here, simply two talented performers singing and playing songs from their hearts that they love, and out of this honest approach the music of Simon & Garfunkel comes alive again in their shows.

Time in any Fringe show only allows for a limited number of songs when you are dealing with a back catalogue like Simon & Garfunkel’s, but Bookends manage somehow to fit into their show the songs everyone wants to hear – “Mrs Robinson”, “The Sound of Silence”, “The Boxer” and “Bridge over Troubled Water” of course have to be there but there are many other songs that are getting outings in these shows too, some that we hear all too infrequently  like “The Only Living Boy In New York”.  Dan and Pete have around 40 songs that they can perform (see our interview with them) live, and this year they are going to try and ensure that, while retaining the songs that have to be in the set, every performance will have a different set list, so if you have not heard your favourite songs this time round, book for tomorrow night too…they might be there.

Over the years that they have been coming to Edinburgh and The Fringe, this show has been built up to the sell out it now is by a combination of sheer hard work and the likability of Dan and Pete and their honesty in their delivery of the music, and audiences have taken to them and their music in a big way.  I like Bookends a lot, and I have to be honest and say that I prefer their stripped back to suit their vocals and single guitar arrangement of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” to the original studio version as I always thought this was over-produced and detracted a bit from the beauty of the song itself - it simply never needed anything added (I can hear some gasps of S & G fans out there now as I write).

Bookends also expand their performance of Simon & Garfunkel songs in another show that adds a string quartet.  This show comes a little closer to the studio sounds and returns to The Festival Theatre in February 2018 as part of its tour.

To read our interview with Dan and Pete go to this link



Review by Tom King





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