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

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Image Source: The Simon and Garfunkel Story

Written By: Andrea Young

Format: Music Show
Genre: Folk Rock
Date: January 8 2019
Location: Empire Theatre, Liverpool

Let’s set the clock back to the 1950s, in Queens, New York. Two boys meet at elementary school. Two boys who would go on to become the musical voice of a generation, sell more than 25 million records and create some of the best-selling albums of all time. At the heart of their creative genius is their relationship.

That is the narrative behind The Simon and Garfunkel Story, which takes us on a journey from their first musical outing at the age of 15 as duo Tom and Jerry, right up to their 1981 reunion concert at Central Park. The audience is taken along for the ride with help from superb film footage and lighting which evokes each decade of their career.

New York’s Greenwich Village, the moon landing, JFK, the summer of love and Vietnam are all referenced, which combined with excellent sound design help to create the perfect backdrop into which the outstanding Kingsley Judd (Art) and Adam Dickinson (Paul) step.

The show has been performed in more than 50 countries during the last six years, and has been seen by over a quarter of a million people worldwide. It is worthy of both the hype and the huge audiences.

This is a slick production and these are seasoned performers, despite both being in their early twenties. The opening performance of The Sound Of Silence was jaw-dropping, met with rapturous applause from the Liverpool Empire audience who knew that this show would be good, but didn’t know that it would be this good.

The big, showstopping numbers are mimicked with precision, but the lesser-known songs give both performers a chance to share the beauty of their own exceptionally well-trained voices. The two narrate the history of the songs they are performing at intervals, explaining not just how they impacted on culture, but where they also stood in the history of the duo’s relationship.

I Am A Rock and Only Living Boy In New York are used to highlight the tensions, but ultimately the respect and love, between these two lifelong friends.

Both Kingsley Judd and Adam Dickinson are given opportunities to shine alone, as the show also nods to Simon and Garfunkel’s solo work. But it is when their two voices come together that the real magic happens, highlighting the complexity and beauty of the harmonies in the genius song writing of Simon and Garfunkel. Sublime.

Seeing the songs performed live brings to the forefront the intricate layering of rhythm and instrumental in each of their songs. This is brought to life by the excellent Leon Camfield, Will Tuckwell and Mat Swales. Adam Dickinson’s guitar playing, which takes on Paul Simon’s complex travis picking technique, deserves special mention. There was not a note out of place.

Judd and Dickinson have a great chemistry and their acting skills are apparent, using gestures and looks that highlight the tension but ultimately the warmth between the two. Judd has even gone so far as to get a perm to show his commitment to his role. The costumes were also fantastic, the detail impeccable.

The first half was packed with classics and some lesser-known gems. Leaves That Are Green, Bleeker Street, The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine, a stunning rendition of Scarborough Fair, Groovy and Homeward Bound delighted the audience. The second half ramps up the rockier and heavily-rhythmic numbers in the duo’s catalogue, with a heady version of Mrs Robinson, followed by Hazy Shade Of Winter, Keep The Customer Satisfied and Cecilia.

The audience was made part of the performance, invited to clap along, a gesture that again highlighted the strong rhythm that underpins their work. Kingley Judd takes centre stage for Bridge Over Troubled Water, and the audience was mesmerised by this truly moving powerhouse of a performance. A real tear-jerker. After a thumping encore of The Boxer, The Simon and Garfunkel Story leaves the audience wanting more.

I would, without doubt, watch this show again. You can catch it again locally at Edge Hill’s Rose Theatre on April 13 if you can; you can buy tickets at www.thesimonandgarfunkelstory.com.

Overall Rating: 9/10 – Outstanding