Now that Paul Simon has completed his upcoming album Stranger to Stranger, the singer is turning his attention to his upcoming U.S. tour. It kicks off April 20th at Jazz Fest in New Orleans and criss-crosses the country until early July. "This last tour with Sting was all arenas," Simon says. "This one, I'm playing a lot of 4,000-seat theaters. We're also doing a couple of festival and things just to make enough money to play the smaller theaters."
The setlist will be sprinkled with tunes from Stranger to Stranger, out June 3rd, but Simon knows why most people buy tickets. "They wanna hear 'You Can Call Me Al,'" he says. "So I play it. It's not like I would pick out 'You Can Call Me Al' and play it because I really want to, but people like it so much that I'm like, 'Of course I'll do it.' I'll play 'Me and Julio [Down by the Schoolyard]' too, though I actually like 'Me and Julio.'"
Simon plans on playing "Werewolf," "Wristband" and the title track to Stranger to Stranger along with roughly 10 hits, two tracks from 2011's So Beautiful or So What and a song from 2000's You're The One. "We also do little medleys like 'Rewrite' that goes into 'Slip Sliding Away.' We used to do 'Hearts and Bones' into 'Mystery Train' into 'Wheels.'"
Trying to please the multi-generational audiences that buy tickets to his shows can be a challenge. "The younger demographic wants to hear me sing 'Rewrite' from So Beautiful or So What or something from The Capeman or some tune from Rhythm of the Saints that I haven't played. There's a group that likes that album more than Graceland, and if they know the older songs it's only through their parents."
His focus at the moment is figuring out a way to balance all the sounds on the stage. "The problem I have with concerts is that they're too cluttered [and] hard to hear with so much stuff going on," Simon says. "I'm constantly saying to the band, 'Take that out. Too many notes. Don't do that. Give me space here.' Everybody doesn't have to play all the time even though they're all very good musicians."
The tour is slated to wrap up with a two-night stand at Forest Hills Stadium, the very neighborhood where Simon grew up and befriended Art Garfunkel. "It's the first big concert venue we ever played," says Simon. "It was also where the final Simon and Garfunkel took place before the reunions that came many years later." The last Simon and Garfunkel reunion took place in 2010. Just last year, Garfunkel called Simon an "idiot" and a "jerk" in an interview with The Telegraph and said he "created a monster" when he became his friend in grade school. Despite all that, would Simon be open to another reunion at some point down the line? "No, out of the question," Simon says, sternly. "We don't even talk."