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Bookends - 4th April 2024


It’s curious how familiarity can mute our appreciation of things beautiful, a smirr of ennui may render the song of a thrush or the last rays of a sunset unremarkable. Our senses, tempered by routine are often roused only by novelty’s magnetic pull.

And isn’t Simon and Garfunkel’s music like that? Always there, like once carefully chosen wallpaper you don’t notice any more.

Then something comes along to reboot the senses, reset our appreciation threshold, remind us not to take magic for granted.

That something was Bookends, the Simon and Garfunkel ‘tribute act’. A rather odious expression, so let’s be done with the ‘tribute’ thing from the git-go - they are no more a tribute act than the London Phil are a Beethoven tribute act. Enough said.

Simon and Garfunkel’s music has New York threaded through its DNA, from early experiments at the Brill building, forged on Manhattan schist, Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, beat poetry, Bleeker Street, lofts, art galleries, jukebox diners and hipster novels; was this our Athens?

And the music that soundtracked this incandescent technicolour youthquake that was the 1960s still runs, hard wired into our minds’ currents. Memories and meaning hewn deep.

Now, there is a maxim that the difference between an amateur and a professional is that an amateur practises until they get it right, a pro practises until they never get it wrong. Bookends are… professional.

With just two voices and a guitar to breathe life into this great music, they took us from the late 50s with Hey Schoolgirl, when Simon and Garfunkel, billed as Tom and Jerry were mere teenagers in thrall to the Everlys, right up to 1970s all-grown-up Bridge Over Troubled Water and dissolution.

And with the music pared back and unadorned by backing musicians the vocal harmonies were exposed for what they are – beautiful, ethereal, uncanny; downright eerie in places; shimmering like twilight fireflies, delicate as a spider’s web light catcher.

And this was no run-of-the-mill, predictable jukebox trot-out, we heard a few of Simon and Garfunkel’s less familiar songs. How well they held their own alongside the hits.

In the run-up to the evening, I did wonder if Crail Folk Club had mis stepped by booking Bookends. I once saw a ‘David Bowie’ thing in Edinburgh and it was a tedious affair. I saw We Will Rock You, the Queen musical and it was a trip to hell.

But, by Jove, Bookends hit the sweet spot, it was exquisite and, truth be told, I’m still feeling palatably groovy one whole week later!

Words by Callum MacLeod (, photos by Peter Salkeld

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