Art Garfunkel review – glorious return from one of pop’s most famous voices

Art Garfunkel

As half of Simon and Garfunkel, Art Garfunkel’s voice was once so golden that, he reveals, he could sing for the cows while he was out walking and they would gather round.

However, vocal cord paralysis recently reduced one of pop’s most famous voices to a husk. “I lost my voice,” he explains. Getting it back remains a “work in progress”.

Thus this “less-is-more” tour where, accompanied by a solitary guitarist, Garfunkel is bravely healing his vocal cords in public. Now 72, without his once-lustrous blond curls, he sounds croaky in The Boxer, coughs during the solo tune Perfect Moment and seems unusually vulnerable.

Watching him struggle is, initially, a painful but humbling glimpse into the “hard work, fear and adrenaline” firing this two-hour performance. However, the voice warms up as the audience inspire him, and Scarborough Fair beautifully reaches the “otherworldy place” Garfunkel strives for. When For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her gloriously reveals his intact upper octaves, it’s enough to make you cry.

Anecdotes from his music and film career are more effective for their endearing slices of ham – when he met Al Pacino, he could “feel the vibe between us” – but a lengthy Q&A with the house lights up suggests that, if the voice ever goes completely, he could find a second career as a raconteur. Someone asks why Paul Simon isn’t here: “I’ll tell him he was asked for!” One young man simply says: “I don’t have a question – I just want to say I love you.” Then Garfunkel delivers a note-perfect Bridge Over Troubled Water, and receives a standing ovation for a show that, warts, croaks and all, is rather special.

• At New Alexandra theatre, Birmingham on 7 September (0844 871 7615) and at Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow (0141-353 8000) on 8 September. Then touring the UK until 11 September. Details: artgarfunkel.com.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Dave Simpson, for The Guardian on Sunday 7th September 2014 11.41 Europe/London

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