Live Review: Gary Stewart Presents Graceland at The Crescent

In his Graceland show, local singer songwriter Gary Stewart presents an intriguing hybrid of a gig. While the first part is given over to his own work, the main event is effectively a tribute act celebrating the work of Paul Simon and his seminal album Graceland.

Review and Photos by Graeme Smith

To use the phrase ‘tribute act’ is not to be disparging at all though. Having interviewed Gary for our Going Underground podcast, we here at York Calling are well aware of the high esteem in which he holds Paul Simon and how Paul’s work has influenced his own. Therefore it’s a logical pairing and Gary does the legend proud, both through his own work and his covers.

Gary’s own brand of cavalier folk provides a perfect warm-up for a night with Paul Simon and it was great to see some of the tracks we’ve shared on the podcast come to life on stage. Gary has a new album out called Lost, Not Found, and the set was devoted to tracks off of it. Of particular note were two of the album’s singles Hot To Trot, which is lyrically astounding, and Leopard, a low-key romp delivered in Gary’s characteristic Scottish twang.

Starting his set solo, Gary was joined by the other members of his Graceland set so all the faces that returned after the interval were familiar, albeit with a costume change. The rest of the evening was then handed over to Paul Simon himself, with a playthrough of tracks from his most famous album. It’s really an album that needs no introduction. I’m not a close follower of Paul Simon’s work personally, but every track I heard was instantly recognisable, such is the classic nature of the work.

Gary and his band played with such mastery of the music but there was plenty of room for fun, energy and no small amount of dancing too. It truly was a great night at The Crescent and I highly recommend everyone who can to check it out – Paul Simon fan or not.

Gary Stewart present Graceland took place at the Crescent on Saturday 19 September 2021.