SO, that’s it! My 50+ year admiration, homage of Paul Frederic Simon can now only continue via the digital medium (I’ve still got all formats, including vinyl!)

He’s 76 and still diminutive at 5’2. But, in my life and for millions of others, he’s a giant. Among the likes of Joni Mitchell, Carol King, Neil Young, Dylan and all other celestial singer-songwriters he stands head and shoulders higher for his lyrics, music, arrangements, performances around the world.

I first saw him with Arthur Garfunkel, in May 1968 in Birmingham Town Hall (tickets less than a £1)

Lines in songs like “I have my books and poetry to protect me” and “When tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all”... have guided and inspired me for half a century.

We’ve seen him three times now in the arena in Manchester, once in tandem with Sting. But Homeward Bound - The Farewell Tour was our last opoortunity to see him and was not to be missed!

This concert started on a flat note - literally! But it was the first and last one.

We then treated to (with “encores”) two-and-a-half hours of high quality music, with a backing band of musicians and vocalists, again of high quality.

The set list was no slave to chronology although it began with America off the Bookends 1968 album.

Simon played 26 tunes in all, mainly the crowd pleasers, but including three or four as yet unknowns from his imminent album.

Ask, did he play this, or that? The answer will be probably be ‘yes’, except for Mrs Robinson.

His earliest tune? Sounds of Silence from 1966.

Would he try Bridge Over Troubled Water without Garfunkel’s tenor tones? Yes, would. He spoke with some affection about “Arty” two or three times. His rendition of probably everyone’s iconic tune was backed with a ensemble of strings, wood wind and brass. Excellent!

The crowd was enrapt. Simon responded with some good stories but mainly a humble response to his reception.

He explained how “Rene and Georgette Magritte” came from an afternoon at Joan Baez’s home, when she left him alone for some time.

“To the Penquins, The Moonglows, The Orioles And The Five Satins” explained at last!

And one of my favourites, with the epitaphic line “I would not be convicted by a jury of my peers” made it!

How to end this feast? Homeward Bound? Yes, but still there was more!

And the final encore, of five top tunes? The Sound of Silence.

One small giant on the stage with his guitar. A fitting end to a great night, a great career.

Who’ll be my role model now that my role model is Gone Gone?