On Monday night, dozens of musicians gathered at New York’s Carnegie Hall to honor the music of Paul Simon. The night kicked off with an introduction from producer Michael Dorf before house band Antibalas and X’s John Doe took the stage for the night’s first tune, “Mrs. Robinson.”
Throughout the 23-song, career-spanning show, each musician added their own particular piece of flare to their performance. Joe Henry brought out Milk Carton Kids guitarist Kenneth Pattengale for his rendition of “The Boxer.” Pattengale’s son Levon also participated in the jam. New Orleans’ Allen Toussaint fittingly performed “Take Me to Mardis Gras” while Bob Forrest and Gibby Haynes of The Butthole Surfers delivered a Ramones-style version of “Motorcycle” (even breaking into a section of “Blitzkrieg Bop”).
Another unannounced guest, TV On the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, shared the stage with Antibalas for “Think Too Much.” Adebimpe has close ties to the Brooklyn outfit, as he was roommates with Antibalas founder Martin Perna. In true soul fashion, Sam Moore walked off stage toward the end of his performance of “Loves Me Like a Rock” before the show closed with a stellar run of Simon’s greatest hits.
Bettye LaVette delivered “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” solo before Richard Marx and Antibalas played “Still Crazy After All These Years.” Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson delivered “America” which preceded Phish’s Mike Gordon and Antibalas on “Late In the Evening.” Gordon utilized a mini-acoustic guitar and was featured as a solo vocalist, a rarity in his musical past. The set closed with Angelique Kidjo and Antibalas delivering their take on the quintessential Simon track “You Can Call Me Al.”
While Bettye LaVette and Kidjo mostly led the encore of “Feelin’ Groovy,” the whole ensemble took to the stage to wrap up the tribute show that raised $1 million to benefit music education for underprivileged youth.
Most artists performed without much commentary, however some took time to honor Simon outside of the music. Josh Ritter commented that Simon was the “greatest artist of his generation.” Before his performance of a church-like “Wartime Prayers,” Ben Sollee remarked that Carnegie Hall felt like a cathedral while Phish bassist Mike Gordon recounted a story about his daughter requesting Paul Simon on their morning drive to pre-school.
Many of the performers also took to an after show at City Winery (founded by show producer Michael Dorf) to continue the celebration. Nicole Atkins played a set with her band before Antibalas took the stage for a brief set. Brett Dennen jumped on stage with the house band for a cover of Bob Marley’s “Them Belly Full.” Bettye LaVette also contributed to a cover of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” and L.P. along with Ben Sollee led the group through a Harry Belafonte cover.
Here’s a look at the full setlist with performers noted:
“Mrs. Robinson” (John Doe with Antibalas)
“Bridge Over Troubled Waters” (Judy Collins with Antibalas)
“Scarborough Fair” (Megan and Snow)
“The Boxer” (Joe Henry)
“Sound of Silence” (Joy Williams)
“American Tune” (Madeleine Peyroux & Jon Herington)
“Slip Sliding Away” (L.P.)
“Duncan” (Josh Ritter with Antibalas)
“Take Me to Mardi Gras” (Allen Toussaint with Antibalas)
“Fakin’ It” (Bob Mould with Antibalas)
“Motorcycle” (Bob Forrest & Gibby Haynes)
“Born at the Right Time” (Isobel Campbell and Andy Cabic with Antibalas)
“Something So Right” (Brett Dennen with Antibalas)
“Wartime Prayers” (Ben Sollee)
“Only Living Boy in New York” (Dan Wilson)
“Think Too Much” (Tunde Adebimpe with Antibalas)
“Loves Me Like a Rock” (Sam Moore with Antibalas)
“50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” (Bettye LaVette)
“Still Crazy After All These Years” (Richard Marx with Antibalas)
“America” (Ann and Nancy Wilson)
“Late in the Evening” (Mike Gordon with Antibalas)
“You Can Call Me Al” (Angelique Kidjo with Antibalas)
“Feelin’ Groovy” (Whole Ensemble)