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Paul Simon sings, and we always listen

By SEAN DALY

Times Pop Music Critic

Paul Simon is 70 and yet he sounds like he's still 17. He's unassuming in stature, comically tentative, and yet artistically he's always been bold, a tortured perfectionist poet whose wordplay and rhythms are wild and grooving. He's a party-starter in the shell of a wallflower, one of the most enigmatic pop craftsman — with or without his buddy Garfunkel — of the past 50 years.

A Simon tour is a rare thing indeed. Although his Monday stop at Ruth Eckerd Hall won't be one of his ballyhooed Graceland 25th anniversary shows, it'll be packed with several cuts from that album (including the life-affirming Boy in the Bubble) and others.

This tour is named after Simon's latest album, 2011's So Beautiful or So What, a curious gander at life and death — and the holy meat market that is The Afterlife. In typical Simon fashion, the record merges humor, gravitas and that typical wise-acre resolve of a New Yorker.

Appropriately enough, Simon's Clearwater gig sold out in a hurry, even though tickets hovered around and above the $100 mark. If you got in, congratulations: Earlier stops on this tour had him doing covers of Mystery Train and — this one floors me — the Beatles' Here Comes the Sun.

Sean Daly can be reached at sdaly@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8467. You can follow him on Twitter: @seandalypoplife.

PAUL SIMON

Paul Simon performs at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. The show is sold out. (727) 791-7400.

Paul Simon sings, and we always listen 11/30/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 3:30am]

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