Simon and Garfunkel Through the Years performed by Bookends at The Festival Theatre was not only a heartfelt evening’s tribute to the Music and Words of Simon and Garfunkel, but a great show by two talented performers who have the wonderful warm connection with an audience that this music really needs to be performed at its best.
Bookends are friends since school - Pete Richards (Vocals) and Dan Haynes (Vocals & Guitar), and their name is taken from Simon and Garfunkel’s fourth studio album. Dan and Pete have been playing long runs of sold out shows for the past few years at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and it was at one of these shows that I first heard them perform last year. This duo may perform on stage their musical tribute to the words and music of the originals, but that is where the tribute act ends. There is no attempt by either to look anything like their musical heroes (anyone at one of their shows knows this), and that is honestly what takes Dan and Pete into a performance space that is their own. Looking as close to the originals as some other S & G tribute acts try to do and singing the songs and close harmonies is simply not enough, you need something extra, and “Bookends” have whatever that extra is. A large part of that “extra” is probably that the originals were friends since an early age, and throughout the classic recording and performance period, that friendship between the two always shone through...the same is true of Dan and Pete.
This show is, with the aid of documentary film and commentary, the story of Simon and Garfunkel as musicians, songwriters and friends, and through their music we follow that story pretty much in a straight line. Our musical adventure tonight takes us right back to the very first single together “Hey Schoolgirl” when our yet to be “Simon and Garfunkel” were teenagers known musically as “Tom & Jerry”. Interestingly enough though, even in this very Everly Brothers sounding song, you can still hear in there a little of some chord changes and rhythms that would later be developed into their classic “S & G” sound.
Apart from the close harmonies, what always took the original music into a place of its own was the songwriting abilities of Paul Simon, and these are songs of a master songwriter at work, and a master storyteller able to paint a picture in words. Dan and Pete as “Bookends” have an honesty with this music that allows them to re-tell those stories to an audience and give the words that feeling from the heart that the originals could do. “Bookends” are not Simon & Garfunkel, they know that only too well, and their audience know that too, but somehow they have managed to re-capture that spirit of the original songs.
Many of the classic songs were performed here in this show – “I Am A Rock”, “Mrs Robinson”, “Scarborough Fair”, “The Boxer”, “The Sound Of Silence”, “Cecilia” and many more. Of course, with a back catalogue like Simon and Garfunkel have, there will always be someone’s favourite left out. Oh, and yes, the obvious “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was in the set, but this was thankfully a version re-arranged by Dan and Pete to suit their own vocal ranges. I say thankfully, because this is one song that so many people destroy by attempting vocal gymnastics and in the process destroying the integrity of the original.
“Bookends” do a very stripped back performance usually of the music, and concentrating on the live performance versions of songs rather than the studio versions, they stick to the simple basics that work so well when you have great songs to work with – vocals and guitar. This larger venue tour (and tonight was the largest audience they have played to to date) has allowed them the luxury of expanding the music with the help of the “Leos Strings” quartet, and this well arranged addition allowed many of the songs in the second set to take on an extra layer of sound without becoming obtrusive or distracting from the songs and their words.
Dan and Pete are, thanks to their musical heroes and their own talents, on a musical adventure that they probably never imagined could be taking them to where they are now , and where they are going – a tour of the USA in April for example.
Dan and Pete are back in Edinburgh for Fringe 2017 at their usual venue at theSpace @ Symposium Hall. Dates are 4th - 13th then 15th - 26th at 8.50pm, tickets are £12 and Friends of the Fringe get half price.
For more information on Bookends visit
Before one of last year’s Fringe shows, we did a short interview with Dan and Pete
You can read it here
Review by Tom King