Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
Costello without Abbott? Pride without Price? Garfunkel wihtout Simon? Sure enough, Monday night at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Art Garfunkel stood alone. It's been seven year's since the tall, thin one has gone on tour, though frequent television appearances and occaional reunions with Paul Simon have given him a rather high profile for a recluse.
Lately, Garfunkel detractors have tagged him saccharine and boring. This is based partly on some of his recent material and parly on a backlash to his turn away from the hard-edged intellectualism of the Simon and Garfunkel days.
Simon and Garfunkel didn't shout like the Jefferson Airplane and they didn't whine like Dylan. They whispered in impeccably sculptured tones about the state of like. And we listened and nodded in sad acknowledgment.
Monday night, Garfunkel opened with "For Emily . . ." and encored with "Sounds of Silence," and it all came flooding back. Again, the audience - mostly older, and including luminaries like Sen. Edmund Muskie (D-Maine) and Jeff Carter - nodded. This time, with satisfaction. It was one of the most pleasant evenings of popular music heard in a long time.
Besides Garfunkel's own repertoire, there were brilliant arrangements of Simon and Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair" and "Cecilia," which was highlighted by Leah Kunkel's vocal harmonies.
Garfunkel still doesn't know quite what to do on stage, and his four-piece band was thin in spots and generally unexciting. But Garfunkel doesn't deal in excitement; he deals in feelings. And, like it or not, in memories. When "Bridge Over Troubled Water" wafted through the spacious hall, its echo told us how long it's really been.
Dan Hill, a Canadian who has gained an American following with "Sometimes When We Touch," opened the evening in what seemed to be a time warp. Hill looks, talks and sings late '60s. He proved to be affable enough, but his songs are force-fed with "deep meaning." Hill won the crowd over but he tried so hard that it was nearly uncomfortable.