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Paul Simon and Graceland in Hyde Park – July 2012

July 16th, 2012 · 12 Comments · Music, Real-life Adventure Tales

Paul Simon certainly exceeded my expectations last night!

He and his two bands only had a couple warm-up gigs in Dublin before bringing back “Graceland” in front of 50,000 people in the most famous park in the English capital of Europe.

A 2 hour show became 3 hours, and he started at 7:20 to avoid the power-cutting curfew that befell Bruce and McCartney the night before.

And speaking of that, it was wonderful that the Simon audience and all the opening acts were like a folk festival and not a rock concert in that it was easy to move around and there were very few drunk loogans.

Of course I experienced it from my standard 7-people from the front rail in front of the stage with 49,900 people behind me.

And as usual I unified a whole krewe of surrounding people, making friends and turning it into a large group party with Russians, Jamaicans, Americans, Dutch people with their Dutch cigarettes, and families-full of Brits.

The show was really expansive — Jimmy Cliff fronting Paul’s band for “The Harder They Come” and “Many Rivers To Cross” into Paul & Jimmy dueting on “Vietnam” and “Mother & Child Reunion.”

Ladysmith Black Mambazo opened their part with two a capella songs that were reverence-evoking hymns and had the place jaw-dropped and hushed silent.

And then Paul comes out to join them for the very Zulu “Homeless” — which came across not about street-people or tragedy but how we are all persons of the planet — not one location.

And the Graceland stuff is just RIPPIN’ !  “Diamonds On The Soles of Her Shoes,” “I Know What I Know,” “Boy In The Bubble,” “Crazy Love,” the wild energetic zydeco “That Was Your Mother” — and the whole 2 hour+ show builds to this monumental “Gumboots / Graceland” peak.

And in the middle of it Hugh Masekela comes out — the 73-year-old legendary trumpet & flugelhorn player from South Africa who does a “Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela)” and then pretty-much steals the show with this riveting Beat-poetry meets scat-Zulu with Coltrane-sax and Miles-horn on “Stimela (Coal Train).”

Here’s a version of him doing it with Paul’s Graceland band back in the day …

And “The Sound of Silence” was positively spooky in how its sound made utterly silent this enormous crowd who had just been dancing in exuberant reverie for hours — but suddenly it was church-quiet except for the faint collective harmony of people whispering the hymn along with the preacher.

And dobro master Jerry Douglas came out for “The Boxer,” and bluegrass fiddle player Gabe Witcher from the Punch Brothers for “Dazzling Blue,” and all these special guest African women singers . . . it was just uber-special, and of course I was right in front of the stage with a killer world-beat krewe.

Oh, and the weather was just Perfect even though it’s been the rainiest summer in the history of the British Isles and had rained on every other big concert held there this month.

Proof. 😉


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For more Adventures in Music — you may want to check out the New Orleans Jazz Fest ride.

Or how The Grateful Dead came to play my 30th birthday.

Or the night Dylan showed up at Springsteen’s show at Shea Stadium in New York.

Or when Neil Young returned to Massey Hall in Toronto.

Or Furthur came back and reprised the Dead at Madison Square Garden.

Or when the Dead, Janis, The Band and others took the Festival Express train trip across Canada.

Or that time with The Merry Pranksters at Yasgur’s Farm.

Or the night I was hanging with Dr. John’s band in Toronto.

Or here’s the day I finally “got” Bob Dylan.

Or the night we all lost John Lennon

Or the (Route) 66 Best live performances ever captured on film.


by Brian Hassett

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12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mitch Potter // Jul 16, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    Gold medal in the decathapranksterthon goes to …. Brian Hassett of Canada. 😀

  • 2 John Link // Jul 16, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    Wow!! I’ve read nothing but magical & glowing reports, but yours made me the happiest. Can’t wait for the North American Tour this Autumn…just make sure you get your Canadian butt back home by then …meet you at this year’s Toronto gig!!

  • 3 Chris Maxfield // Jul 16, 2012 at 5:07 PM

    Sounds amazing!!!!

  • 4 Debbie Vazquez // Jul 16, 2012 at 6:01 PM

    OMG sounds like heaven!!!

  • 5 Rod Mizak // Jul 16, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    Great story and pics, Bri.

  • 6 Connie Briggs // Jul 16, 2012 at 10:29 PM

    Keep writing, Brian!

  • 7 Gaylene Dempsey // Jul 17, 2012 at 12:15 AM

    You lucky b*****d 🙂

  • 8 Honey Hill // Jul 17, 2012 at 1:29 AM

    I love how you form a “krewe” every damn place you go!
    Thanks for sharing your globe-trotting with all of us back in the homeland.

  • 9 Karen Hamilton // Jul 17, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    I’m loving all your reports from England, Brian! … Wish I could be a fly on your hat at all the events you encounter … Hope to see you back home when you return … Looking forward to your Olympic commentaries … they will be amazing!!!

  • 10 Susanne McCrea // Jul 17, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    I’ve seen him live. He’s awesome.

  • 11 Rick Medland // Jul 17, 2012 at 5:44 PM

    That photo — you look like you came from heaven — with that ecstasy face!

  • 12 Ben Kleiman // Jul 17, 2012 at 9:52 PM

    “He’s got to be at least half as good as Simon & Garfunkle.” 😀

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