It turns out Paul Simon and Sting have more in common than we thought.
The odd coupling of one of the architects of '60s folk rock and one of the pioneers of new wave somehow clicked at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night, especially when they joined forces in their mutual love of world beat music. (The duo returns to The Garden Thursday night.)
Simon added a great reggae groove to "Mother and Child Reunion" in order to better match Sting's bouncing "Walking on the Moon" and make the first transition a seamless one.
Like Billy Joel and Elton John's "Face to Face" tours, Simon and Sting played their hits together and separately in their "On Stage Together" tour, using their collaborations as a way to bridge their individual sets.
Though Sting and Simon are clearly equals on the tour, presiding over an impressive 14-piece band, it is Simon who makes the more powerful impact. His breezy version of "Graceland" was delightful, while his jazzy version of "Still Crazy After All These Years" took on a wistful, more poignant feel.
Not that Sting didn't have his moments. His take on Simon and Garfunkel's "America" was a beautiful surprise, while "Message in a Bottle" still rocked hard.
However, Sting was oddly deferential to Simon, singing harmonies and even offering compliments, saying that as a literate songwriter, Simon is "without peer."
Simon said he expected that he and Sting would become more similar as the tour continued. "I will become more Adonis-like," he joked.