Pulling up a stool in front of the intimate, softly lit stage down in the basement of Komedia, reminiscent of so many NYC music venues, the audience and I settled in to enjoy the iconic songs of Simon & Garfunkel. However this was more than just a tribute act, what duo Bookends have done is just that little bit more special.
Harmonies are tight and from the early lines of I am a Rock a hushed surprise creeps across the room
Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel met at college, just like duo Dan Haynes and Pete Richards, who formed Bookends as a tribute to Simon & Garfunkel. I hesitate to guess at how many thousands of hours must have gone into honing their sound since, but the outcome is almost indistinguishable from the original. Harmonies are tight and from the early lines of I am a Rock a hushed surprise creeps across the room. The catalogue of Simon & Garfunkel is both vast and beloved allowing Haynes and Richards to create a set guaranteed to please. They even throw in a nod to Simon & Garfunkel’s early work with Hey Schoolgirl, a teenage hit the duo had whilst playing under the name Tom and Jerry, before moving onto the soul-tugging folk that made their name with Kathy's Song, Sparrow and the wistful Homeward Bound.
Playing in front of screens displaying original photos and voiceovers documenting the history of the act, the show narrates the journey of Simon & Garfunkel: Through The Years. The backing voiceovers have some interesting snippets in them but I preferred the more natural story telling of Haynes and Richards between their songs. With a warm and subtle stage presence, they would have done well to ditch the voiceovers and narrate the laid back, mini-music lectures themselves. All credit should be given to the duo for doing their homework and their were plenty of obscure facts on offer, such as the trivia that Homeward Bound was written in the concourse on Widnes train station. Whilst fans of Simon & Garfunkel might have wished deeper analysis, for an intimate gig atmosphere, this went down well.
Bookends haven't attempted a look-a-like act and, eschewing questionable wigs, they have opted to perform a tribute to the music they love, intelligently deciding what they can and can’t do. A lack of piano skills forced a re-arranged version of Bridge over Troubled Water, which sounds as though it should be all kinds of wrong, however it was a gorgeous achievement. Other highlights included Richard Corey, delivered with a pleasing amount of grit and particularly welcome as it often gets missed from sets, having never been released as a single.
There was a lot of love in the room for the songs and two duos at the center of this show. It's a comforting, blissful way to spend an evening.