If we lived in a world where logic and common sense ruled, Dan Clews would be a huge star.

He is a tremendously talented singer-songwriter in his own right, and also a wonderful guitarist, and has all of the attributes at hand to achieve much wider scale success than he has managed to attain so far.

But. selfishly, I have to say that I’m glad that has been the case! Because, if he had reached the peak of fame that his immense talent deserves, we would not have the opportunity and privilege of seeing him at our Fringe festival in recent years, playing in intimate venues where we can hear him deliver his brilliant renditions of songs by some of the icons of modern music.

This year he is performing his show The Paul Simon Experience during the first half of the festival, before gifting us a reprise of his fantastic James Taylor tribute show in the latter half of the Fringe.

Both of these shows should be on everyone’s must-see list.

This new Paul Simon show started with an audio montage of the music and the events of the early sixties, in order to give the show a context and a clear starting point, before Clews came on stage and opened with a sublime version of The Sound Of Silence, which certainly set the bar very high for what was to follow.

The Simon & Garfunkel section was skewed towards the more delicate numbers in the duo’s canon, and Kathy’s Song, Homeward Bound, Song For The Asking and The Boxer were all delivered sensitively and evocatively, all enhanced by Clews’ individual interpretive touches.

As he moved into Simon’s solo years, Clews brought his band onto the stage and the show suddenly shifted up into yet another gear as a result.

Whilst the solo selection was surprising – nothing at all off the There Goes Rhymin’ Simon album, for example – the chosen songs were all delivered with energy and joy.

Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard was a pleasure to hear, played with flair and unbridled enthusiasm, and the small crowd attending were soon whooping and singing along, unable to resist the song’s infectious rhythms.

Drummer, Marcus, emulated Simon’s original drummer, Steve Gadd’s, rolling drum motif perfectly during Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover, which was no mean feat, and this song was another highlight of this all too brief show.

The performance ended with a bracket of extended tracks from Simon’s Graceland album, and, during these, the band excelled in capturing the world music feel of the original incarnations of the title track Graceland, as well as Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes and You Can Call Me Al, with Clews successful in having the crowd supply the Ladysmith Black Mambazo vocal lines where required.

This was a near flawless performance, with the only frustrating element being the ‘bleed’ of noise coming through from the adjoining performance space during some of the quieter numbers.

A wonderful hour of entertainment.


By: Ken Grady

Rating:   5 stars

The Paul Simon Experience is being performed at Gluttony, in the Phoenix Room, in the basement of the Masonic Lodge, 254 North Terrace, from Tuesday 18 February to Sunday 23 February, and from Tuesday 25 February to Sunday 1 March. All performances start at 6:00pm.

Tickets available here: The Paul Simon Experience