Art Garfunkel: In Close-Up
Pantages Theatre, Minneapolis, MN
January 12, 2017
All content by: Patrick Dunn
Among the flourishing selection of concerts that take place in the Twin Cities each year, there are always a handful that standout. One of those special few already took place January 12th as fans spanning several generations filled the Pantages Theatre in downtown Minneapolis for an evening with Art Garfunkel. The show’s title “In Close Up” accurately describes the experience that was Garfunkel candidly sharing both a behind the music perspective related to the treasured compositions he’s known for as well as some interesting insight into his personal life and other creative endeavors. One detail that made the Twin Cities show special is Garfunkel’s Minnesota connection with wife Kathryn (Kim) being from Minnetonka and having family in attendance. He made several local references, “Good house tonight, more than Minnesota nice.”
The stage was setup for a trio; grand piano & keyboards, guitar & music stand, a couple stools and a glass of water – half full. There were no distracting props or video screens ensuring all focus would be directed toward the man and the music. The audience expressed great appreciation and respect as Garfunkel walked to center stage to begin the first of 2-sets. He was sharply dressed in the manner we are used to (white button-up shirt with maroon tie dangling loosely under a pin stripe vest, and jeans) and spoke his opening words, “I can’t believe I’m still doing this.”
The delicate “April Come She Will” was a good starting point that allowed Garfunkel to ease into the vocal rendition we are all so familiar with. I was fascinated watching him sing while he gazed off in a direction that seemed to extend beyond the confines of the theater. It made me wonder from the countless times he’s repeated this action, what might be going through his mind. This unplugged version required only the expert fingerpicking by Tab Laven on a Martin acoustic. Laven also has a Minnesota connection having grown up in Wayzata.
Another creative by-product of Garfunkel’s extraordinary journey is the poetry he’s written, which was sprinkled in throughout the show to add some perspective and provide further insight into the songs. Each passage was neatly handwritten on plain white envelopes, which seemed peculiar but likely served the purpose better than a coffee shop napkin. The topics did reveal a sense of his personality, but the real treat was getting to see Garfunkel bring the words to life and witness how much pleasure he appears to get from it.
Of course, Simon and Garfunkel hits like “The Boxer” and “Scarborough Fair” were big crowd pleasers in the first half, but there were additional standouts like “All I Know” (Jimmy Webb), which featured the third trio participant Dave Mackay, who was very expressive on piano. Before Garfunkel’s soulful “Perfect Moment”, he did call-out the fact that there was “no Paul Simon in the writership”, but it came across as more humorous than spiteful. He genuinely seemed to be invested in the performance and was very interactive with the crowd between each song. The final song heading into intermission “Homeward Bound” provided a nice upbeat shift effectively leaving fans enthusiastic and looking forward to more.
Garfunkel kicked off the second set with a reflection on yet another creative outlet, his acclaimed role in the movie “Carnal Knowledge”. He was particularly complimentary of his friend Jack Nicholson’s contribution to the project and remembered Nicholson telling him, “I love to act.” “Well I love to sing” were Garfunkel’s words as he transitioned into Randy Newman’s “Real Emotional Girl”. It was an interesting selection that ended up pairing nicely with “Bright Eyes” to produce some of the evening’s strongest vocals. “Here’s the song that changed my whole life”, a significant lead-in to the greatly anticipated “The Sounds of Silence”, which the audience absolutely adored. And for the big closer, “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, it did not disappoint. With one final Minnesota reference, Garfunkel expressed that he had hoped this would be a particularly good show in his wife’s hometown – mission accomplished!
April Come She Will
A Heart in New York
All I Know
The Side of a Hill
Real Emotional Girl (Randy Newman)
For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her
Sound of Silence
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep