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Friday, September 17, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 19

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A poet and a one-man band

Paul Simon and Bob Dylan come together in Houston tonight

By Jason Caesar Consolacion
Daily Cougar Staff 

You've seen Elton John and Billy Joel share the stage. Even Eric Clapton and B.B. King have done it. Art Garfunkel and James Taylor, too.

This time, they couldn't have set it up any better.

Two icons of American music will share the stage tonight at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Paul Simon and Bob Dylan will conclude their summer tour in Texas, which includes a 7:30 p.m. show tonight at The Woodlands.

The two have been touring throughout the summer, mainly around the New England area. Thousands have flocked to see the two songwriters together. They have garnered an audience consisting mainly of those who followed them since the '60s, while also attracting the small, but new breed of Simon and Dylan listeners.

"We have been great fans of each other for years," Simon and Dylan said in a joint statement. "This tour will give us the opportunity to honor each other's work while playing for our fans."

The whole tour is full of special treats, including Simon's name on the bill. After the much-publicized commercial failure of his Broadway musical, The Capeman, Simon threatened to retire. When the opportunity arose to pair with Dylan, Simon didn't even hesitate.

Dylan, on the other hand, has been touring routinely for the past decade. His shows have included pairings with such artists as Van Morrison, Patti Smith, Joni Mitchell, Santana, the Grateful Dead and Tom Petty. There was also the "Rolling Thunder Tour" that included Joan Baez, Neil Young, Roger McGuinn, Mitchell and others.

Simon and Dylan got together thanks to Simon's brother Eddie and SFX Concerts' Bob Sillerman. Eddie Simon and Sillerman approached Paul Simon, asking him if he would like to tour with a partner, with Dylan being a strong possibility. The rest is history.

The show has alternated its order of appearance, but for tonight's program, Simon is scheduled to open. The two will perform together after that, and Dylan will close.

According to past reviews, Simon's set has changed dramatically throughout the tour. Most recently, it has included a healthy dose of songs from his Grammy-winning album Graceland (1986) and quite a few from the follow-up Rhythm of the Saints (1991).

The two albums are the pair that showed Simon's expansion from folk and rock music as the artist began to implement African and Brazilian musicians to create an international sound. His 11-piece band is comprised mainly of musicians left over from those two albums.

Simon has only revived one song from The Capeman.

Fans more inclined to hear Simon's earlier work, including his Simon & Garfunkel hits, will be disappointed to find that Simon is not very interested in playing that material anymore. 

Earlier in the tour, he opened with a new arrangement of the S&G hit "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and included a few tunes like "Mrs. Robinson" and "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" in his set.

Simon and Dylan perform each other's hits while the two share the stage. Dylan has been insistent on doing the S&G hits like "The Sound of Silence," "Homeward Bound" and "The Boxer," while Simon has requested that the two harmonize on "To Ramona," "Forever Young" and "Knockin' on Heaven's Door."

"Knockin'" has been performed with a new reggae twist as Simon's band has provided the backing track, allowing Simon to add a verse of his 1970 hit "Mother and Child Reunion."

Simon and Dylan also perform a few covers together, including Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line" and Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky."

Dylan's solo set includes all the greatest hits, including songs from his recent Grammy-winning Time Out of Mind album. He also covers the Grateful Dead's "Friend of the Devil," Simon's "The Only Living Boy in New York" and Buddy Holly's "That'll Be the Day."

The quality of the show has not necessarily been up to par. The buzz surrounding the tour is that both Simon and Dylan are past their respective primes and their two voices don't quite blend well together.

Nevertheless, it's Simon and Dylan. The fact that these two living musical legends are sharing the stage tonight is enough reason to attract music lovers to The Woodlands.

Fans can't expect to hear Garfunkel's angelic harmonies behind Simon's clever poetry anymore. Likewise, Dylan won't be on top of his performance like he was throughout the '60s.

But the two still possess the same stage presence that they have always carried. Simon's delicate voice making music of his simple melodies is still apparent. Dylan's shyness hiding behind the electrifying sound of his guitar, harmonica and lyrics is also still there.

Tonight should be a night to remember -- it could be the last time these two musical giants tour.
 

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