Inspiring our youth – reflections from an awesome Paul Simon concert

Been to a concert recently?  I hadn’t been to one for years, but Paul Simon’s one night in Auckland was hard to resist for this ageing rock chick.  As it turned out, the Vector Arena was full of people like me – those who had followed Paul Simon’s career since the 70s, and had the grey hair and defiantly still-tight jeans to go with it. 

The concert was nothing short of awesome – Rufus Wainright did a superb job of opening, and Paul Simon and his team of 8 musicians brought such depth of expertise and love of music, they had the entire place alternately motionlessly enthralled and rocking, stamping and yelling along with them.

Paul Simon concert pic 1

For some reason, we had front-row seats, so we had a close-up view of the way Simon led his team, and how they all engaged with each other as they played, riffing on a theme and adding just the right sound at the right moment (sometimes with obviously home-made instruments designed for just that purpose).  They must have played these songs thousands of times before, but each one sounded fresh, and they looked completely engrossed.

The evening was perfect, but for one thing.  By the second song I was longing for a group of young people to be there – aspiring musicians from our city’s schools and tertiary organisations – so they could be inspired, and so they could see what life as a professional musician can be about. 

Imagine if, every time one of these musical greats comes to our city, we made sure there was space (up-front if possible) for a group of young musicians to be there.  And as we’re dreaming, what about if those young people could have a few minutes with the performers, to ask them about how they got where they are today, what keeps them engaged, what skills they need to turn out top-of-the line performances in city after city, year after year.  Maybe it’s a dream, but perhaps there are ways to make it a reality – any thoughts?


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