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LISTEN IN: Paul Simon still on top of his game

Published 5:00pm Saturday, May 7, 2011

Paul Simon may still be crazy after all these years, but his performances are still crowd pleasers.

Before Simon even stepped on stage at First Avenue in Minneapolis Tuesday night, many were calling it a historic Minnesota show.

The music legend and two-time Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Famer played a rare club show at First Avenue in downtown Minneapolis, taking the stage around 8:20 p.m. Tuesday.

Simon and his band lived up to the billing with a two-hour set.

Despite a few moments where he looked worn from the tour, Simon sounded youthful at 69. While other musicians like Bob Dylan (also 69) featured gravel-worn vocals, Simon’s voice showed few — if any — signs of age.

Sure, he missed a few high notes at the start of “The Only Living Boy in New York,” but his solo-acoustic version of “The Sound of Silence” lived up to its classic billing.

Even though those he only played those two Simon & Garfunkel tunes, Simon had no shortage of hits. Much of the crowd sang along to Simon’s “50 Ways to Lose Your Lover,” “Slip Slidin’ Away” and “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.”

Simon seemed to tailor his set for the standing-room only crowd by playing mostly uptempo songs, many featuring African and Latin styles.

Simon was backed by a proficient and practiced eight-piece band that frequently switched instruments mid-song. Simon often stepped back and let his musicians play and solo.

Despite Simon’s extensive song-book, a Beatles cover garnered the loudest reaction. The crowd roared to the lines “long, cold, lonely winter” and “I feel the ice is slowly melting” from “Here Comes the Sun,” which Simon performed with its writer George Harrison on “Saturday Night Live” in 1976.

Simon closed the night with “Still Crazy After All These Years.”

A capacity crowd of about 1,500-people were eager to see Simon at the small, intimate club. Many talked of tickets selling out in about three minutes. Waiting for the doors to open, the crowd lined up outside the club for more than an hour and a half.

Many were impatient and confused about when — and how — the doors would open for the show. A will-call only system thwarted the possibility of scalping tickets, but slowed the process of admitting the sold-out show.

“It sure is nice to play a club show,” Simon told the crowd during the set.

Simon played the larger Minneapolis Convention Center on Monday.

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