After their 2014 North American tour, Paul Simon and Sting conquered the Australian land earlier this year, before reaching Europe, and finally London on the 15th of April, where they played two nights at the O2 Arena. The set was almost the exact same as all their previous shows, except for one change on Paul Simon’s part. But as they did for the past months, they opened the show together with Sting’s Brand New Day.
The orchestra on stage was quite impressive: 14 members playing accordion, trombone, trumpet, saxophone, guitar, bass, cello, drums, percussions, synth and more... Paul Simon and Sting played two songs of each of their own repertoire together, before Simon left Sting to perform two of his own songs, as well as three covers of his former band The Police - including Walking On The Moon, for which Paul Simon came back and joined in.
They pursued on Simon & Garfunkel’s famous Graduate soundtrack, Mrs Robinson; before it was Paul Simon’s turn to be left performing alone with the band. Turn after turn, the peers would play a couple of their own songs before meeting back on stage to cover one or the other’s composition. After the quite melodic Mrs Robinson and 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover, Simon carried on with the rather melancholic Dazzling Blue before taking the crowd to Graceland.
Sting met him back on stage to perform his song Fragile as a duet, which Paul Simon called one of his favourites. The Police frontman reciprocated by saying that there is a Paul Simon song for every key moment in life, and introduced the following America as the song that converged with the moments in his life when he was "sailing out on a great adventure”. He explained “It really captures that sense of risk, a little bit of danger, and the slightest hint of homesickness” and for the first time of the show, he covered it without the key player.
Sting carried on with two covers of The Police, including a revisited version of Roxanne with an excerpt of Bill Wither’s Ain’t no Sunshine added to it. The transition was so smooth, it sounded like a part of the original song! He finished his set with Désert Rose, a duet he recorded with Algerian raï singer Cheb Mami, whose arabic lyrics were brilliantly covered by the vocalist.
Paul Simon came back to perform Simon & Garfunkel’s well acclaimed The Boxer with Sting before the latter left for another few songs. Simon started tap dancing on the first accordion sounds of That Was Your Mother, before treating his audience to that unique setlist change he performed for the whole tour. He told the audience ‘I don’t know when I’ll see you again so I thought I’d sing something else’ and started strumming the chords of Sound of Silence on his guitar, causing great chills amongst the crowd. After a few ‘We love you Paul!' and ‘You’re my hero!’ resonating throughout the venue, the sound of silence was finally reached amongst the crowd giving way to Simon’s masterpiece and the audience's tears.
The singer then performed two covers which - for the first time of the show - were neither his nor Sting’s composition: Little Junior’s Blue Flame’s Mystery Train, and Chet Atkins’ Wheels. The Following Diamonds On The Sole Of Her Shoes had its a-cappella intro beautifully performed by Paul Simon, along with the rest of the orchestra. He closed his solo set on the lively and rousing You Can Call Me Al, which got the audience standing on their feet and clapping joyfully.
Sting joined the master one last time for the final songs which included two of their former bands’ masterpieces: The Police’s Every Breath You Take, and Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water. The whole orchestra thanked the audience and left the stage just after, leaving Paul Simon & Sting to close the show on an acoustic version the Everly Brother’s When Will I Be Loved? Just enough to put new heart into you.