After lunch at Chambers, we went back to the hotel for a rest. Our room came with a daily paper, so Bill took the opportunity to read up about what was expected at our concert. The same information was also available online, but it was a nice touch to have the information on an actual piece of paper. The next day, the show (just Paul Simon’s part) was given a glowing review. I saved the paper, although I didn’t entirely agree with the reviewer’s comments.
Paul Simon on stage with his excellent band!
Anyway, the show was at RDS (Royal Dublin Society) Arena, which I understand is typically used for equine and other sporting events. We were instructed to use the “red route” as opposed to the “yellow route” to enter the arena, even though we actually sat on the yellow route side. They were enforcing this rule, too, which was a bit of a pain, since the cab dropped us off on the yellow route. I chose to leave my big purse at the hotel, which was a good idea. I did bring a sweater, though, which was also a good idea. It got surprisingly chilly Friday night, after the sun went down.
We booked pitch seating, which isn’t necessarily the best idea for Bill and me, since we’re both kind of short. We were in row UU in seats 93 and 94– not super close, like we were at the Stones’ concert, but pretty close. We were able to see the stage fairly well, especially with the use of the monitors, which weren’t as big as the ones at the Stones’ concert. Many people who were standing in the back complained about the view. I will admit, it was probably pretty hard for them to see much of anything from where they were. The stands on either side of the arena appeared to offer a good vantage point. In retrospect, I might have preferred sitting there. Pitch seating felt a lot like riding in the middle seat in coach on an airplane.
Unlike at the Stones’ concert, we sat near friendly people. Two Irish ladies sat next to Bill and they were very chatty. The people on my side were not chatty, but they were very friendly. The crowd mostly consisted of older people… people even older than Bill and I are. We saw older folks at the Stones’ concert, too, though most of them seemed a bit more ambulatory than some of the people at Paul Simon’s show.
Bonnie Raitt took the stage at a little after 5:00pm. I’d read that she recently had surgery. She did look a little tired, but she and her band sounded great and played a lot of their best known hits like “Angel From Montgomery” and “No Business”. She even brought guest player Paul Brady on stage; he co-wrote “Not the Only One” with Bonnie for her 1991 album, Luck of the Draw, and played “Something to Talk About” for a guy in the audience who was celebrating his 70th birthday. She mentioned that it wouldn’t be long before she herself celebrates 70 years on the planet. I kind of expected political commentary from Bonnie Raitt, and she did quip that she was happy to be on the other side of the pond. Everyone cheered. The ladies who were sitting with us had a whole lot to say about Donald Trump. We agreed with their negative impressions of him and assured them that we didn’t vote for Trump.
Bonnie played for about an hour, said goodbye, and then we had about a half an hour before James Taylor took the stage. That’s when a lot more people showed up. I was surprised that Bonnie didn’t get more of a turnout; but then, Friday was a workday and the show started at around five o’clock. It could be that a lot of people couldn’t get off work. I enjoyed her part of the show and was kind of surprised to see her opening for anyone. In my book, she’s a legendary performer herself.
The place filled up in time for James Taylor’s entrance. I’ve been to two other concerts featuring JT– once in 1990 and once in 2003. I’m always struck by how much he enjoys playing music. Once again, he was sounding great and injected some humor into his set. At one point, he was talking about how much he was enjoying his tour as he casually flipped over his guitar. There, he’d put the words “Help me.”, which got a big laugh from the crowd.
James had his long time backup singers Andrea Zonn, Kate Markowitz, and Arnold McCuller with him. I didn’t see David Lasley, who has always been with him in other shows I’ve attended. Hope he’s doing alright, although Lasley is 70 now. Maybe he’s retiring, too. Michael Landau, who’s been playing with James since at least the early 90s, was also playing in Dublin. I got a kick out of watching drummer Steve Gadd, who was really into the music. He looked like he was about to take a dump on stage a couple of times, but it all sounded (and smelled) great.
I’ve been a James Taylor fan for many years and feel like I know him, although we’ve never met. I did attend his brother Livingston’s concert at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia. Livingston once sent me guitar strings when I was trying to learn to play (on a really crappy used Armenian guitar I bought at the vernissage). I loved Liv’s show. He was very accessible and the venue was intimate. Unfortunately, he mostly plays in the United States, so I’ll have a wait before I can see him again. Anyway, the Taylor clan is immensely talented and very near and dear to my heart. Though they’re from Boston originally, they all grew up near Chapel Hill, North Carolina, which is where my sister lives and not far from where Bill and I lived for a time. I grew up in southern Virginia, which isn’t all that far, either. Their music takes me home.
Finally, after Taylor’s ninety minute show and a short break for the roadies to set the stage, Paul Simon came out. This was my first time seeing Mr. Simon in concert. It’ll probably be the only time I’ll see him, since he says he won’t be touring anymore. Let me just say that I’m delighted that I pulled the trigger on this concert. It was absolutely awesome. Simon was backed by a marvelous group called yMusic. They played Simon’s best known solo hits and most his older Simon & Garfunkel hits expertly. The crowd was enchanted by them. I was equally enchanted… at least until I got a charley horse and had to walk around a bit.
The crowd mostly stayed seated for Simon’s show, although a few people couldn’t help dancing. Toward the end of the concert, people got to their feet and Simon plowed through twenty-six songs. He looked pretty tired by the end, but was such a gracious and humble performer. It was a real treat to see and hear him play. At the end of the show, he even left us with hope. Just before he played
“American Tune”, he said “Strange times we live in, huh? Don’t give up.” The crowd roared. Ireland clearly loves him, too. Here’s a link to the review that was in the Irish Times on Saturday.
At the end of the night, we headed out of the arena and some American guy was complaining about not having a ticket stub. Apparently, he printed his tickets or something. They were being very strict about showing your tickets when you went for food or to the restroom, so he must have had something proving he was there. Anyway, he asked the crowd if anyone wanted to donate their ticket stub to him. Some guy obliged and the American guy started cracking jokes. He said, “Hey, this says Bruno Mars on it!” (Bruno Mars had also played recently in Dublin) Then he said, “Does anyone want this guy’s credit card number?”
The mood coming out of the arena was jubilant. People really had a good time! Bill and I were amazed that we spent six hours listening to three legends play. We were exhausted at the end of it, but so glad we made the trip. Ireland was a great place to see Paul Simon perform his last tour. Better yet, no one smoked cigarettes next to me all night while wearing a tank top!
This is a picture of the hideous American Embassy in Dublin.
I was impressed by all of the choices of things to eat. At the Stones concert, you could eat wurst and drink beer. Paul Simon’s show had a bunch of food trucks. Bill and I stuck to beer, mainly because we didn’t want to wait in line.
Lots of people hung out on the green before the show started.
My view before the crowds arrived.
Bonnie Raitt on stage. She was the only performer to get a formal announcement.
Thank God for zooming.
James Taylor sneaked on stage with no introduction!
Andrea Zonn plays fiddle… she is a contemporary of Alison Krauss’s and also sings beautifully. Check her out.
Paul Simon is only 5’3″ (still taller than me), so it helped that he was on the monitor.
This is the view off screen, although I zoomed for this shot.
I posted this picture on Facebook with the quip “This time, it wasn’t me.” Between us, Bill and I had four beers, only two of which were in bottles. The two guys in front of us drank at least fourteen ciders between them. Drinking is not a joke in Ireland!
This guy on keyboards was insanely good. He played a genius solo toward the end of the concert. I was very impressed by all of the musicians who played with Paul Simon. They were all very talented players.
Final bows. I loved the guy in the red shirt playing lead guitar. He had a lot of charisma and was as much fun to watch as he was to listen to.
Many folks were headed here after the show was finished. Not Bill and I… we needed rest.