Review: Anticipation—Carly Simon’s New Album Finds Her Coming Around Again

Carly Simon/Live At Grand Central/MRI/Legacy
Four out of Five Stars

Carly Simon was famously known for having stage fright, which may explain why her concert at New York’s iconic Grand Central Station, performed in April 1995, was unannounced and took commuters entirely by surprise. The fact that it was her first live performance in 14 years further attests to her reticence to take the stage. And yet, choosing a locale as public as the middle of the station does make one wonder if, in fact, she was as fearful as her reputation implied.

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The performance was filmed and shown on Lifetime Television and subsequently released commercially later that year. That was likely a way to assuage her fans and conveniently allow her to avoid appearing in public, at least until she returned to the stage in the latter part of 2008.

Now in her mid-70s and a recent Rock & Hall of Fame inductee, Simon may have an excuse to avoid the spotlight for the foreseeable future courtesy of this live set released on Blu-ray, CD, vinyl, and digital streaming. The set naturally includes her mega-hits “You’re So Vain,” “Haven’t Got Time for the Pain,” Let the River Run,” “Anticipation,” “Coming Around Again,” and “Davy,” all of which allow for a veritable greatest hits performance in one convenient package.

Nevertheless, despite any possible misgivings, Simon displays credence and confidence that belies any hint of insecurity or uncertainty. She’s in fine voice throughout and asserts her presence effectively throughout the whole of this 15-song set. The delicate designs of the opening track, “Like a River,” effectively set the stage for all that follows, with the usual warmth of her vocals adding a hushed ambiance to each of the offerings. On songs such as “Jesse,” “Halfway Around the World,” and “Haven’t Got Time for the Pain,” she sings with a richness and vitality that easily does justice to the studio versions. She also manages to show a playful nature, as evidenced by the silly “De Bat (Fly in My Face).” The appreciative yet unsuspecting audience reacts in kind with enthusiasm of their own. 

For those that haven’t heard from Simon in a while—her last album, ironically titled Never Been Gone, was released in 2009—Live At Grand Central is an ideal compendium. Hopefully, it’s far from her final fling.

Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic

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