Paul Simon made a surprise guest appearance on Saturday during Global Citizen Live, closing out the event’s New York City installment with a two-song performance.
Coldplay’s Chris Martin, the fest’s headliner, introduced Simon after the scheduled 10 p.m. wrap time. “We’re going to bring up one of the greatest of the greats, Paul Simon,” Martin told the audience, according to Variety. The singer-songwriter opened with a version of the Simon & Garfunkel song “The Boxer,” and after reportedly bringing out biologist E.L. Wilson, the six-and-a-half-hour show wrapped with Simon playing “The Sound of Silence.”
The set, as Variety notes, brought together more than 60,000 fans in Central Park’s Great Lawn. And it occurred almost precisely 40 years after Simon & Garfunkel’s famous free reunion show in the same spot, drawing a reported half-million people. (That gig, which benefited the park’s redevelopment, was recorded for the duo’s first live album, 1982’s The Concert in Central Park.)
Watch Paul Simon Perform “The Sound of Silence”
Simon was previously scheduled to perform in August at Central Park’s We Love NYC “homecoming” concert on a mega-bill also featuring Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith and Elvis Costello. However, the event was reportedly stopped early due to severe weather, and none of the aforementioned artists were able to perform.
The Global Citizen cameo marked Simon’s first traditional public performance since Nov. 23, 2019, during a recording of Live From Here with Chris Thile in New York City. But in June 2020, the songwriter did play a three-song set for the live-streamed and televised event A Night for Austin, which benefited the Texas capital amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Paul Simon / Simon and Garfunkel Albums Ranked
Paul Simon was always an uneasy folksinger, a role his record company tried to push him into starting with Simon & Garfunkel’s debut album.