The lazy Sunday vibe is washing over a warmed up crowd at Hyde Park as they wait in anticipation of tonight’s headliner, musical maestro Paul Simon (of Simon and Garfunkel fame). There’s an overtly different feeling in the air compared to last night’s Bruce Springsteen show, fans this evening are relaxed and calm as well as being of an over-all older age group and there’s something rather nice about it.
Opening with soft bluesy ‘Kodachrome’ to a round of appreciative but grown-up cheers and applause, Paul Simon steadily rides through the song in his so-laid-back-he’s-almost-horizontal way but the sound gets a little bit washed out in ‘50 Ways to Leave Your Lover’. He is then joined on stage by “… a great hero of mine, Jimi Cliff” (sporting gold sequinned trainers no less!) who gives the reggae edge to the proceedings with ‘The Harder They Come’ and ‘Many Rivers To Cross’.
Moving on to Simon’s decisive African Township influenced ‘Graceland’, which caused quite a stir back in ’86, is tonight reverential, and is felt all over again as the formidable Ladysmith Black Mambazo take to the stage to do it justice. There’s no formal ceremony about this show, it’s unassuming but special, and the likes of ‘Homeless’ and ‘Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes’ seem to take the breath away from the awed onlookers.
When Hugo Masekela comes out for a spirited ‘Mandela’ as the sun shines down, people are warming up their dancing feet and with two encores featuring the likes of Simon & Garfunkel hit ‘The Sound of Silence’ and ‘Still Crazy After All These Years’, he rounds off the Sunday jam session with an easy casual manner. This was undoubtedly Paul Simon at his best, but it smacked of a quiet comedown for Hard Rock Calling rather than a sensational out-with-a-bang type of affair and the crowd definitely began to wane from around 9pm in favour of early tubes and soft beds.