Simon Shines At Brooklyn Tribute Series

Paul Simon brought the second component in a three-part, month-long series of concerts celebrating his vast discography to a close last night (April 13) at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, drafting inte

Paul Simon brought the second component in a three-part, month-long series of concerts celebrating his vast discography to a close last night (April 13) at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, drafting international collaborators to help him recreate material from his hit albums "Graceland" and "The Rhythm of the Saints."

The evening, dubbed "Under African Skies," followed performances earlier this month of Simon's ill-fated late '90s musical "The Capeman"; a run of shows focusing on his more singer/songwriter-leaning work begins April 23.

Simon and his crack band welcomed such guests as Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Vusi Mahlasela, Cyro Baptista and Luciana Souza throughout the night, but none got a bigger reception than former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, who sang backup on "Born At the Right Time" and then took the lead for stirring renditions of "I Know What I Know" and "You Can Call Me Al."

The set list focused exclusively on "Graceland" and "The Rhythm of the Saints," which found Simon fusing his pop sensibilities with South African and Brazilian roots music. Highlights included "Cool Cool River," which featured an extended, jammed-out finale; "Don't Cry," sung by Mahlasela; and "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes," which found Simon high-fiving the members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo as they exited the stage.

In the middle of the show, Simon and a pregnant Souza dueted on "O Vendedor de Sonhos," which Simon wrote with Milton Nascimento. The latter was scheduled to participate in the "Under African Skies" series but fell ill; Simon told the audience he was already recovering and would be fine.

Simon said little throughout the night, but injected a moment of levity when an audience member yelled, "We love you, Paul," during a song break. "I couldn't agree more," he said, adding, "Actually, if you heard my inner dialog, you'd know that's not true."

Simon and his band will be on tour in Europe this summer, beginning July 1 in Reykjavík.