Paul Simon to play O2 Arena Prague

Music legend is back on top with one of his most successful solo albums

One of the true legends of popular music, Paul Simon will be kicking off his 2016 European tour in Prague's O2 Arena on Oct. 17. Usually, since Prague is smack dab in the middle of the Continent, we usually get to see tours near their end, but for some reason Simon is running against the trend and going counterclockwise through Europe.

A brief statement on his website about the tour is a bit cryptic: “The concerts will see Simon play a two-hour set featuring classic songs spanning his illustrious career, as well as a selection of tracks from his eagerly anticipated forthcoming album Stranger to Stranger (out June 3rd),” it read. The album, his 13th studio effort, took five years to make and was released to overall positive reviews. It reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the UK Album Chart.

Set lists of his recent concerts in the US show him playing about 28 songs, starting with Simon on “Boy in the Bubble” (following an instrumental without Simon) and working up to two encores with some of his early hits. Three songs in the tour come from the new album, while seven come from Graceland and four from The Rhythm of the Saints. Whether or not he will change the song list for Europe hasn't been announced.

Simon shot to fame in the 1960s playing folk rock in the duo Simon and Garfunkel, but he has not stayed stuck in that genre. The new album branches into electronic dance music, with three tracks done in collaboration with Italian musician Clap! Clap! (Cristiano Crisci). It also uses custom-made instruments by the late experimental composer Harry Partch, including cloud-chamber bowls and the chromelodeon. The instruments work on a microtonal scale, which Simon says pervades the new album. The unique instruments are stored at a university in New Jersey, and it is unlikely they will be part of the tour.

The subjects of the new songs are also quite diverse, ranging from a song about a prowling werewolf to one about a musician who cannot get into his own show without a wristband.

UK newspaper The Guardian gave the album five stars out of five, and USA Today gave it four stars out of four, the highest possible rating. Rolling Stone magazine was just slightly less enthusiastic, giving it four out of five stars. “His sophisticated feel for rhythm – always his secret weapon, even as a folkie – is in full force here,” Will Hermes said in Rolling Stone. “As on most of his recordings, Simon explores new musical territory alongside the familiar.”

For most people, though, Simon is known for his 1960s hits with Art Garfunkel like “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “The Sounds of Silence.” His solo career in the 1970s saw success with songs like “Kodachrome,” “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard” and “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.”

After struggling through the disco years, he made a breakout in his solo career in 1986 with the album Graceland, which helped to introduce African musical themes to a wide audience. His next album, The Rhythm of the Saints, had a Brazilian influence.

The year 2000 saw a return to folk-pop with the album You're the One, and in 2006 Simon released a collaboration with Brian Eno called Surprise. His last album before his most recent one was So Beautiful or So What, released in 2011, also to good reviews. It was mostly recorded in a small cottage in Connecticut and is influenced by West African blues. 


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