Simon previously announced his retirement from touring in 2018, playing his final ever concert in Queens, just minutes from where he grew up.
The veteran singer-songwriter ended his ‘Homeward Bound’ farewell tour at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, playing a 26-strong set that ended with two separate encores.
His unannounced appearance at Newport Folk Festival saw him being backed by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, as well as Jerry Douglas on guitar. He kicked off his set with ‘Graceland’, followed by a special updated rendition of ‘American Tune’ featuring Rhiannon Giddens on vocals.
Following this, he played ‘The Boxer’ joined by Douglas, Lucius, Rateliff and Lukas Nelson, closing out the evening with a performance of ‘The Sound of Silence’ by himself.
Prior to Simon joining them on stage, Rateliff & The Night Sweats played a number of covers, including ‘Mother and Child Reunion’, ‘Homeward Bound’ and ‘Cecilia’.
“What a joy working with Nathaniel and his incredible band. The atmosphere at the festival was nothing short of wonderful,” Simon said in a statement after the show (via Rolling Stone).
“It’s hard to put into words the joy we felt bringing the great American songwriter Paul Simon to the Newport Folk stage,” Rateliff added. “Thank you, Paul, for your songs, your voice and your presence.”
Joni Mitchell also surprised the crowd at Newport Folk Festival over the weekend when she joined Brandi Carlile on stage for two songs.
Together, the pair sang Mitchell’s classics ‘Both Sides Now’ and ‘A Case Of You’, released in 1966 and 1971, respectively. She also played the guitar solo from her 1974 song ‘Just Like This Train’.