Simon & Garfunkel: Through the Years at theSpace @ Symposium Hall Amphitheatre sees “Bookends” aka Pete Richards (Vocals) and Dan Haynes (Vocals & Guitar) making their annual return to The Edinburgh Festival Fringe. As in previous years, this show was sold out. In fact, “Bookends” have for the past few years been selling out their whole August performance run at theSpace @ Symposium Hall.
Why is a “tribute act” doing this year after year? The answer to that question is that “Bookends” are not to me a “tribute act” in the usual sense of the term as they look nothing like their musical heroes and make no attempts to do so, so if you are expecting someone with big hair, or a big wig trying to look Like Art Garfunkel, then you will be disappointed. If, however, you love the wonderfully crafted music and lyrics of Paul Simon and impeccably timed vocal harmonies then this is definitely the show for you. Right at the very beginning of their musical adventure, Dan and Pete decided to concentrate on what was important to them about the music of Simon & Garfunkel - their music - and their name is taken from the title of the “Bookends” album in another tribute to their musical inspirations.
Catching up with this show is always one of my Fringe highlights, and Dan and Pete have far more Simon and Garfunkel songs in their repertoire than can possibly fill the time slot for this show, so expect the set list to maybe change a little with shows.
Vocal harmonies are notoriously difficult to get right, but Paul Simon was a master at writing music for them, and Art Garfunkel was also a master at singing them with Paul. It takes a long time to get as good at harmonies like these and it usually only works where the singers have like Paul and Art known one another for a long time (think Everly Brothers, Walker brothers etc). Like their inspirations, Dan and Pete are old friends and this friendship and trust in one another shows in every song. Dan and Pete may be performing from the back catalogue of some of the best songs written from that generation (well any actually), but the reason people keep coming back year after year to their shows is that they are so good together at vocal harmonies, and sometimes that gets overlooked by the show content. Like Art and Paul, Dan and Pete instinctively know exactly where the other one is musically on stage, and that gives each the luxury of being able to concentrate on their own performance, knowing that the other will simply be there.
All the biggest Simon and Garfunkel songs were in this set tonight – “Bridge over Troubled Water” (I actually prefer their re-arranged version to the original), “Mrs Robinson”, “Scarborough Fair”, “The Boxer”, “The Sound Of Silence” and “Cecilia”. There are of course many more, and a few of them surprises that are not too often heard performed live these days.
If you like the music of Simon and Garfunkel then go and see this show as no one out there seems to be performing the music with such honesty and genuine feeling at the moment. Dan and Pete capture the essence of these songs wonderfully. Try to look a little past the songs though and you will see one of the best vocal harmony groups in their own right that I have seen performing on stage for a long time.
Review by Tom King
Simon & Garfunkel: Through the Years
theSpace @ Symposium Hall - Amphitheatre
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Country: United Kingdom - England