Concert Review: Weather no match for legendary Paul Simon

Singer/songwriter Paul Simon performs during a concert at the Arena Civica in Milan, Italy, in July.

Photo by AP Photo/Luca Bruno

Singer/songwriter Paul Simon performs during a concert at the Arena Civica in Milan, Italy, in July.

Paul Simon's Saturday night concert, which marked the final event of the Mud Island Amphitheatre season, came under less than ideal circumstances: a sudden cold snap plunging temperatures into the low 40s at show time.

Despite the challenging conditions, Simon delivered a rousing two-hour-plus performance that offered a tidy summary of a career that spans seven decades.

Helping warm things up were openers The Secret Sisters. The Alabama sibling duo played a charming selection of retro-country numbers and the group seems poised for its own headlining turn in Memphis following the Simon appearance and an earlier well-received 2011 warm-up set for Ray LaMontagne at the Orpheum.

Still, the legendary Simon was the reason the crowd -- which numbered several thousand, but appeared significantly short of a sellout -- decided to come out in the cold, and he did not disappoint.

Simon, who just marked his 70th birthday, was in a genial mood as he took the stage for a set that touched on the many aspects of his storied career, stretching from Simon & Garfunkel's 1965 breakout "Sound of Silence" to the title track of his latest album, So Beautiful or So What, and all points in between.

He was backed by a versatile and elastic eight-piece band that included longtime collaborators including guitarists Vincent Nguini and Mark Stewart and bassist Bakithi Kumalo, with several players doubling (sometimes tripling) up on various instruments.

Under the glow of large heat lamps, Simon and company drew on the 1986 Graceland LP with opener "Boy in Bubble" and the energetic Zydeco of "That Was Your Mother." Elsewhere, he subtly rearranged familiar favorites like "Mother and Child Reunion" and "Slip Slidin' Away."

Ever mindful of his musical influences, Simon offered up several nods during a mid-set medley that included Elvis Presley's "Mystery Train" and Chet Atkins' "Wheels."

Later, he played a halting version of the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun" in remembrance of its author George Harrison, who died 10 years ago, that turned into an emotional crowd sing-a-along.

By the time Simon reached an extended encore that included highlights like "Kodachrome" and "Late in Evening," most of the audience was dancing away giddily, the temperature barely a concern.

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