Art Garfunkel performing at The Symphony Hall Birmingham on Wednesday 17th April 2019

Review by Kevin Cooper

Even at the young age of 77, Art Garfunkel still sings so beautifully that he can silence a whole room, as he did at a packed Symphony Hall in Birmingham last night.

Coming on to the stage to rapturous applause, there was no big band, no huge stage show, just his long time friend and guitarist Tab Leven and keyboardist Paul Beard, as he delivered an intense evening, rich in nostalgia and reflections. With a set list that was mixed with Simon & Garfunkel material, a handful of his solo works, together with a few covers, it was poignant to see him, his dandelion white afro like hair long gone, but his voice still as captivating and outstandingly effective.

Opening with April Come She Will, his soaring voice, somehow both delicate and rich, filled the auditorium as did his follow up song, The Boxer. With him being an incredible writer, using language to weave intricate tapestries, the evening of music was broken up with readings of either poetry, extracts from his autobiography and I’m A Misfit, a poem that he saw on an underground wall.

The first half saw other excellent versions of A Heart In New York, A Perfect Moment and Scarborough Fair/Canticle before his son, Arthur Jnr joined him for a duet of a sublime version of Devoted To You which mesmerised the crowd. Going into the break with Homewood Bound, Garfunkel earned his first standing ovation of the evening.

Opening the second half was Arthur Jnr with Smile, Garfunkel came back for a cover of Randy Newman’s Emotional Girl. Whilst his voice is certainly no longer the pitch perfect miracle it was, ravaged by advancing years and the paresis of his vocal chords that saw him temporarily lose his middle range nearly ten years ago, he can be forgiven that as his still honeyed voice silenced the crowd for Bright Eyes and The Sound Of Silence.

For Bridge Over Troubled Water the sound was as good as it has ever been, and For Emily Whenever I Find Her it was balanced and caught every nuance of Laven’s brilliant guitar work and provided the highlight of the night. Finishing with another duet with his son, Let It Be Me, it was as though The Everly Brothers were there on the stage as their excellent harmonies filled the auditorium.

Thanking Paul Simon for writing Kathy’s Song for him, he ended the evening with it before quietly reciting the poem, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, before the whole crowd were on their feet in appreciation. Garfunkel left the stage having delivered a meticulous and well executed evening, leaving the crowd with no doubt that they had been in the presence of greatness.