Back in February, prolific singer-songwriter Paul Simon revealed that he was going to stop touring. Of course, when a musician says this, they also announce dates for a farewell tour. Sometimes these jaunts can go on for years in order for the artists to say goodbye to their legions of fans all over the globe. Simon, however, was able to bid adieu in just seven months, and, on Saturday, September 22, he played the very last date of the “Homeward Bound — The Farewell Tour.”
The bittersweet concert performance took place in his hometown of Queens, New York, at Flushing Meadows Corona Park. It was a beautiful night for an outdoor gig, and the man who started his career in the late 1950s put on a “perfect” show, according to Billboard, that Rolling Stone called a “party in the park where complete strangers could groove together.”
When introducing Simon to the stage, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio called him “one of the greatest New York City artists of all time,” reported the Associated Press.
During the show, the 76-year-old played songs from not only his many solo albums but also from his legendary duo, Simon & Garfunkel, and as Billboard noted, the sold-out audience didn’t have “much to quibble with regarding the set list” and “remained transfixed” even when he played some of his less-popular tracks.
Noteworthy tunes performed during the 26-song gig included “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” “Mother and Child Reunion,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Graceland,” “You Can Call Me Al,” “America,” and “The Boy in the Bubble,” according to Newsday, who printed the night’s entire set list.
For the hit song “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard,” Simon’s wife, musician Edie Brickell, came out to handle the song’s whistling parts. And, as all of the media outlets that reviewed the performance pointed out, the crowd went wild to hear him sing about “Rosie, queen of Corona” in Corona Park.
“The mood of the night was overwhelmingly celebratory, more silly than serious,” said Billboard, adding that the Grammy-winner made many references to being in his hometown, including talking about being “two miles” from where he played baseball with Forest Hills High School (and even tossed a baseball back and forth with members of the audience), and saying that the gig was only a “20-minute bike ride” from where he grew up.
“Playing your last-ever live show to an adoring crowd of thousands not far from where you spent your childhood has to be a head trip,” said Billboard, “and Simon appeared very cognizant of that reality as he looked out on the crowd after a hushed performance of ‘The Sound of Silence’ brought the two-and-a-half-hour show to a close. ‘It means more than you can know,’ he told the audience before walking off stage and into retirement from touring.”
Watch Paul Simon perform and say goodbye at his farewell concert in Queens https://t.co/EsnOgoALpX— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) September 23, 2018
Even though Simon won’t be touring anymore, fans will be happy to hear that he still plans to continue creating new music, and may even give the occasional performance every once in a while.