On Wednesday, I took my dad to the Paul Simon concert at the Schottenstein Arena for his birthday.
We stopped at O’Reilly’s, the little pub down the street from me, for a quick bite to eat and a drink before the show. Parking was a breeze at the arena – far better than I would have expected – and we got to our seats well before the opening act. From the moment I picked him up, dad and I carried on a good conversation. Sometimes with my dad we don’t quite know what to say to one another, so conversations can be shallow, or punctuated by long silences. But this day we had plenty to say to one another, and it was really nice to be able to just hang out with my dad and have a good time.
The opening act was unremarkable – I didn’t even catch their name. It was the kind of stuff I’d leave on the radio, if it were on, but not the kind of stuff I’d actually go to see. Then Paul Simon came on, and the show began. I had a fantastic time, even though I don’t know many of Simon’s more recent works. I was marginally disappointed that he didn’t make much of an effort to connect to the audience in any meaningful way, but I can’t complain too much because he played non-stop with quite a lot of enthusiasm.
The crowd was an interesting mix of old and young, but the vibe throughout the audience was positive. It’s hard to explain, that vibe… The last show I went to that had a similar positive feel to the crowd was the first time Carina took me to see Cake. The crowd was subdued, but in a good way: everyone was enjoying the show and having a good time. As an aside, I’ve been to a lot of concerts where the vibe wasn’t nearly so pleasant. It’s hard to enjoy a concert when the neo-nazi next to you is busy lighting his shirt on fire.
It was a real delight to hear live some of those iconic songs that have shaped a generation. “Mrs. Robinson”, “You can call me Al”, and “Cecilia” were definitely crowd favorites. I think “Cecilia” is the only song I know that uses the word Jubilation, which is really shame since it’s such a great word.
During the show, several very weird thoughts occured to me. First: One of the other guitarists on stage had this huge mop of blonde hair, and was dressed rather flamboyantly. For some reason – unbeknownst to me – I just kept thinking “More cowbell!” every time I looked at him.
Second: We had floor seats. Several of the set lights were aimed to pan up across the audience. At several points during the show, the lights stopped in such a way as to point directly at me. It was rather uncomfortable, trying to see the show with these lights burning into my vision. I kept expecting to see a big, gnarly eyeball.
In short, dad and I had a great time!