More Newport Folk history was made on Saturday when Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats surprised festivalgoers with a headlining set consisting entirely of Paul Simon songs. The ultimate surprise was delivered when Simon joined Rateliff onstage for “Graceland” and three more songs, marking Simon’s first ever appearance at the legendary festival.
Rateliff & The Night Sweats’ 13-song tribute was a star-studded affair, featuring a wide variety of collaborators and longtime friends of the band. Performances of Simon originals such as “Mother and Child Reunion” featured Lucius, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” featured Lee Fields with Phil Cook on keys, “Slip Sliding Away” featured Courtney Marie Andrews, “St. Judy’s Comet” featured Midlake, “El Condor Pasa” featured Natalie Merchant, Adia Victoria and The Silk Road Ensemble, “Homeward Bound” featured Lukas Nelson and “Cecilia” featured Marcus Mumford.
Simon’s performance of “Graceland” was a full band affair with Simon and Rateliff singing a duet on the track. Rhiannon Giddens then joined Simon for a new version of “American Tune,” featuring new lyrics written by Simon. Then Rateliff and his band, Simon, Jerry Douglass and CJ Camerieri performed “The Boxer” while ten thousand attendees sang along. For the encore, Rateliff brought Simon back onstage for a performance of “The Sound of Silence.”
Rateliff & The Night Sweats continue to take their lauded live show on the road this summer and fall. The shows include milestone performances at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl and Berkeley’s Greek Theatre as well as multiple sold-out dates at Denver’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre. The run of shows is in support of the band’s third studio album, The Future, which is out now on Stax Records to widespread critical praise. Last year, the group performed on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,”
“The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” and “CBS This Morning: Saturday.”