AS a fitting opener for a Valentine's eve concert, Art Garfunkel sang ``A Heart In New York'' to 2,000 concertgoers at Boston's Symphony Hall.
During the course of his 20-song set, Garfunkel proved that his unmistakable voice and melodic music still have a foothold in pop music today, thanks to a base of loyal fans who have followed him through the years - with or without Paul Simon.
Last Sunday, Garfunkel and his six-person band ushered in an evening of nostalgia, love, and warm entertainment. The singer appeared in bluejeans, a blue shirt, brown vest, and a purple tie; and casually greeted the audience with a ``Howdy.'' Most concertgoers recognized all the tunes he crooned, among them: a twangy ``Homeward Bound,'' ``Scarborough Fair,'' ``I Only Have Eyes For You,'' ``Mrs. Robinson,'' a Caribbean-style ``Cecilia,'' and ``Cryin' in the Rain.''
Moments ranged from serious to giddy, from joyous to humorous. At one point Garfunkel joked, ``I don't know how many of you remember I used to be in the movies...'' (``Catch-22'' and ``Carnal Knowledge''). Then, referring to actor Jack Nicholson, he said, ``I'd have played the joker [in `Batman'] a little more low-key and wry.''
Garfunkel also pointed out that his female backup singer, ``the fabulous babe grabbing all the attention...,'' was his wife, Kim, whom he later referred to as ``the love of my life.''
Together they sang ``Water is Wide,'' which - after a timid start - ended up being sweet and heartfelt.
Other band members also enhanced Garfunkel's sincerity and warmth. Eric Weisberg displayed extraordinary banjo magic in his ``Duelin' Banjos,'' from the film ``Deliverance.''
Much to Garfunkel's credit, his set was smartly structured. Longer, more-dramatic pieces, such as ``Bridge Over Troubled Water'' - which received a standing ovation - were balanced by short, spare ditties, such as ``El Condor Pasa'' and ``Poem.'' For the encore, Garfunkel delivered ``April Come She Will,'' followed by a clap-along ``Feelin' Groovy,'' and the resilient ``Sound of Silence.''
ART GARFUNKEL is best-known for his work with Paul Simon, with whom he gained fame as ``Simon and Garfunkel'' in the mid-60s. Their hit albums included ``Sounds of Silence'' (1965), ``The Graduate'' and ``Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme'' (1967), ``Bookends'' (1968) and ``Bridge Over Troubled Water'' (1970). The duo won four Grammy awards.
They parted in 1970, and Garfunkel enjoyed a stint in movie acting. He then recorded several solo albums, including ``Angel Clare,'' ``Breakaway,'' and ``Watermark.''
In 1981, Simon and Garfunkel reunited in New York for one of the largest free open-air concerts ever staged. It resulted in the double album ``Simon and Garfunkel, The Concert in Central Park'' (1983) and, because of the response, an international tour. In 1990, Simon and Garfunkel were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
During the Boston concert, Garfunkel mentioned Simon fondly several times, at one point introducing ``American Tune,'' as a ``little song about America's history written by one of America's great songwriters, Paul Simon.''
In the recent past, Garfunkel has continued recording. He did ``Two Sleepy People,'' for Penny Marshall's film ``A League of Their Own,'' and last fall, he released his eighth album ``up 'til now.''
As for performing live, Garfunkel expressed his sentiment after singing a stirring ``All I know'' that segued into ``Bright Eyes'': ``I really love to do this,'' he said, sincerely. ``I love to sing.''