Theatre Review: The Simon And Garfunkel Story, Empire Theatre, Liverpool

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Image Source: The Simon
and Garfunkel Story

Written By: Mark Armstrong

Format: Musical
Genre: Musical
Date: January 8 2016
Location: Liverpool Empire Theatre

Rarely could the sound of silence be considered a good thing in a theatre setting. But with The Simon and Garfunkel Story, The Sound of Silence (beginning in acoustic form before the backing group added impact to the tune) was a perfect way to kick off a fun, nostalgic and entertaining look back at the life and works of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.

Dean Elliott and Joe Sterling played Simon and Garfunkel respectively, and both did a more than adequate job of taking the audience back to the days when the two Americans were producing timeless classics that became best-selling hits all over the world, blending soft folk music with some early incarnations of what would be popularly recognised as rock.

A projector screen assisted with telling the story of Simon and Garfunkel’s careers, from how they met to their initial songs (they called themselves Tom and Jerry for their very first hit), to the two men getting their big break and building a legacy that would eventually see them become iconic names in music folklore and receive induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame. The screen also displayed the sights and sounds of the sixties and seventies, with some intriguing classic clips of other notable musicians and celebrities of the eras. The nostalgic costumes and wigs were another nice touch. The show also provided trivia notes and explained the reason why the two lifelong friends would go their separate ways.

All of the recognisable Simon and Garfunkel hits were performed, such as Homeward Bound, Scarborough Fair and Old Friends, the latter of which was enhanced by some unique and emotional images on the large screen. Many other songs were performed off the duo’s most famous albums, although one would have to be a lifelong fan to know them all; that being said, the songs were written so perfectly, and performed so well on the night by Elliott and Sterling, that you would still enjoy the songs that you wouldn’t have known. The soft, almost silent approach to their work and the first-class pitching and tuning of the songs meant that every song was worth listening to, a rarity for a show of this nature.

The final solo performance by Joe Sterling of Bridge Over Troubled Water was by far the highlight; a sensational rendition, based on this, one has to believe that Sterling will himself achieve big things in the industry, such is the musical talent that he displayed here. The last song of the night was The Boxer, which not only allowed Elliott to display his own fantastic vocal range, but it had the audience on its feet to bring a very enjoyable night of music to a stirring conclusion.

I felt that this show was a brilliant look back at two of the most recognisable names in music. While the likes of The Beatles and Elvis Presley are rightly remembered as all-time greats, Simon and Garfunkel left an indelible mark themselves, and achieved unprecedented success at the same time as the aforementioned icons were at their peak. Whether you’re a long-time fan, a student of the industry or simply someone who wants to hear their work for the first time, an ideal education and a perfect tribute to these two musical legends comes in the form of The Simon and Garfunkel Story.

Overall Rating: 9/10 – Outstanding