I don’t care for the Erwin Center in Austin. It’s large, designed mainly for sports, and hard to remember any intimacy in the musical events I’ve attended. Despite my reservations, I dropped a large sum (by my yardstick anything north of $100 for a show is expensive, though I clearly must be in a minority given ticket prices these days) and lucked into a decent seat with a good view of the stage for Paul Simon on his Homeward Bound tour.

The acoustics are poor, the sonic results not great, and the use of a large video screen behind the stage so the aging audience could actually see the musicians on stage proved a distraction. I had to repeatedly remind myself that this cinemascope image up front was not the real thing, he and the musicians were the small figures below the screen, but the larger image kept grabbing my eyes. Not ideal, but for all that, Paul Simon and his band transcended the format to deliver 2 hours and 20 mins of magic.

Without fuss, he entered stage left as the band set up the groove that would become ‘America’ and the poignancy of this song, at this time, was not lost on many of us. Any doubts I had about the cost, the acoustics and the $10 charge for a can of Corona faded quickly and I felt the hairs of my immigrant neck stand up when he sang ‘they all come to look for America’.

And from there it barely let up. 14 musicians playing multiple instruments over different songs, this was an evening mainly of Paul Simon songs, with an aging audience moved to dance during classics, at least as much as the confines of a sports center allowed. Simon was animated, talkative and funny. The band were superb, even if their qualities had to fight the venue. Am sure some folks wanted more Simon and Garfunkel, or maybe did not get their favorite song but I got everything I wanted and more, from Graceland to Still Crazy (a moving version), Homeward Bound and even a solo Sounds of Silence as a final (third!) encore.

Yeah, I’d love to hear him play in a small club but it ain’t ever going to happen for me, consequently I can’t count the cost of hearing him, only imagine the cost of missing out had I not gone. Sonics were not great but the music was, and I leave having felt I saw one of the true greats. I spent today checking out lots of the albums of his that I don’t own via Alexa and Amazon and have a new appreciation for this giant of American popular music. If you’re on the fence about seeing him on this final tour because of the cost, don’t be. Thank you Mr. Simon.