Friday, June 17, 2011

Paul Simon at DAR

In our ongoing quest to take advantage of all opportunities presented to us by the great city of Washington, J and I have checked off another item from our bucket list: see a concert at DAR's Constitution Hall. At the same time I was able to check Paul Simon off of my personal list of great artists I want to see live.

And the great Mr. Simon - all 5 foot 2 inches of him (maybe that's why J likes him) - did not disappoint. We went in expecting a hippie sing along and we got it. Hit after hit was played with the same youthful energy that you'd expect to find 40+ years ago.

J and I splurged on "box seats," which are simply a boxed off area in the front of the balcony. The box was originally designed to hold four permanent chairs but these fixtures have been removed and replaced with five movable chairs. Seating within each five person box is first come, first served. Considering that the floor to DAR is not on an incline to aid sight lines, and that J is shorter than Paul Simon, getting box seats was perfect. While I take it for granted, the chance for J to see anything on stage at a concert is quite a treat.

But as good as it felt to see Paul Simon, as well as sing and dance to songs many of us grew up with, the highlight was something completely unscripted. If you've not heard about audience member Paul Fournier stealing the show, check out this video on YouTube. What you don't see is Paul Simon forgetting the lyrics to his hit, Gumboots, and after taking a cue from Paul Fournier in the front row, waving him to the mic (much to the chagrin of the very large bouncer guarding the stage). Not only did our superfan know all the words, he could sing a bit too, which was a visibly pleasant surprise to Paul Simon.

The Paul Fournier Experience (apologies to Jimi) further reinforced the communal vibe in the room. All artists aim to make a connection with the audience. When Paul Fournier literally broke that barrier, we all became part of the show... thousands of voices singing back up to the great Paul Simon. What a wonderful night!

J Says

It's true, I am shorter than Paul Simon. As B mentioned, this usually means I can't see anything at concerts. Floor tickets? Standing room only? Forget it! Why do I want to pay oodles of money to stare at someone's back? The seats B chose at DAR were absolutely perfect for the vertically challenged population. From our perch on the balcony I had a clear sight line to Paul and his band.

The Paul Fournier Experience was so moving, I was nearly in tears. It was so amazing to see someone living out their lifelong dream. Hooray for awkward (at least dancing) attorneys!

Seeing Paul (Simon, not Fournier) brought me straight back to road trips with my family where singing along was not optional. Paul Simon's tapes were on regular rotation in the car (along with Simon and Garfunkel, Pete Seeger, and CSNY) and his songs remind me of those childhood days where my biggest worry was whether I'd ever grow big enough to beat my sister in a battle for the front seat (update: still hasn't happened). Thank you Paul and Paul for a magical evening.

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