Simon and Sting share the stage

Sting (left) and Paul Simon, pictured in a N.Y.C. performance Tuesday, played the Wells Fargo Center Friday.
Sting (left) and Paul Simon, pictured in a N.Y.C. performance Tuesday, played the Wells Fargo Center Friday. (EVAN AGOSTINI / AP)
Posted: March 11, 2014

Vintage boomer tours have gotten so numerous that acts are now apparently going out on the road in alphabetical tandems. That would explain the charmed Paul Simon/Sting commingling at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday night.

In a brisk and deftly paced evening, the two singer/songwriters alternated solo sets with collaborative segments. But the most poignant moments came unexpectedly, when they interpreted each other's songs - Paul Simon singing "Fragile" to Sting's flamenco guitar accompaniment and Sting, after recalling his first show in Philadelphia with the Police at Grendel's Lair on South Street, serenading the crowd with Simon & Garfunkel's "America." (By serendipity, Art Garfunkel was also performing in Philadelphia on Friday night, at the Art Museum.)

It got rather crowded on the stage, as both men had their own contingents of musicians. There were multiple percussionists, multiple keyboard players, a horn section, and a number of polymorphs who seemed to play a different instrument on each song.

Simon's band looked like seasoned session men; Sting seemed to have recruited a yoga tumbling troupe. Both groups had wickedly versatile chops.

Initially, it seemed Sting would dominate the night, as he turned on the reggae-ghost thrusters for Police songs including "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic," "Driven to Tears," and "Walking on the Moon."

Simon seemed trapped in the role of a younger sibling transparently trying to out-cool his big bro. (In human years, Simon, 72, is 10 years older.) But he made an energetic comeback, and his throwdown of "You Can Call Me Al" earned the evening's most sustained applause.

The two past masters provided an evening of beautiful songs. The mellow, middle-aged crowd responded with some hideous dancing. That vibe will probably change when the Foghat/Foreigner tour rolls into town.


dhiltbrand@phillynews.com

215-854-4552

@daveondemand_tv

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