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Paul Simon performed a rousing set and accepted an award from New York University in his first public appearance since he and wife Edie Brickell were arrested on disorderly conduct charges.
The 72-year-old performed more than a dozen songs on Wednesday night at the Beacon Theatre in New York, where he was honored at the 2014 NYU Steinhardt Vision Award Gala. He played guitar and sang hits such as “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” ”Late In the Evening” and “You Can Call Me Al.”
Simon and 48-year-old Brickell became physical with each other during an argument inside a cottage on their New Canaan, Connecticut property last week. Brickell told police Simon shoved her and she slapped him.
Brickell didn’t attend Wednesday’s event, which raised $1.1 million for scholarships.
“After my fee of a million is deducted, that’s $100,000,” Simon said to laughs.
He was energetic and danced onstage, and the crowd stood dancing with him on songs like “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” and “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” during the 75-minute set.
Simon was honored for his humanitarian work and accomplished music career, which includes 12 Grammy Awards and two inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as a solo artist and as part of Simon & Garfunkel, among other accolades.
Performance students and alumni from the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development joined him when he sang “Still Crazy After All These Years.”
“So, money well spent,” Simon said after the performance as the crowd laughed. Tickets were priced at $300 and $200, and only the ground floor of the three-tiered Beacon Theatre was occupied.
NYU has history in Simon’s family: His father earned degrees from the university and his son currently attends its Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Simon taught songwriting at the school in the 1970s.
“I cringe to think of how little I knew,” he said.
Simon closed his set with “American Tune” and “Graceland.”
Simon recently wrapped up a tour with Sting. Brickell and Steve Martin will perform on Friday in Eugene, Oregon on their collaborative tour.
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