For all of those in attendance at the sold-out Santa Barbara Bowl on Saturday, opener Kelly Sweet and musical genius Paul Simon gave the decidedly aged crowd performances they won’t soon forget. Sweet prepped the audience with her relaxed songs for Paul Simon, who blew the room away like it was 1965.

Sweet, a cross between Tori Amos and Sarah McLachlan without the angst, was a pleasant welcome to those trickling into the Bowl on the clear Saturday night. With her classically trained voice and romantically light lyrics, Sweet entertained the audience with songs from her debut album, which is set for release in March 2007. It was obvious to everyone that there’s no other place that Sweet would rather be than on the stage, singing her songs for the crowd.

Sweet held the audience’s attention with her variety of songs, which varied from jazz to easy listening to songs of the rock persuasion. Sweet’s “Raincoat” was playful and upbeat all the while showcasing Sweet’s dynamic musical abilities.

She pulled in the slow-moving audience with her version of Aerosmith’s hit “Dream On,” which was recognizable to all. Sweet put a slow spin on the song and spiced it up with her exceptional vocal range and the crowd enjoyed her version.

Sweet finished the set with the title song from her debut album We Are One, and it was the perfect ending, for it once again displayed both her immense joy for music and performing as well as what we can expect from Sweet in the future.

The anticipation in the air was palpable as the Bowl slowly filled to capacity and Paul Simon did not disappoint with his set list. There was something for everyone from Paul Simon – classic Simon songs such as “Slip Slidin’ Away” and “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard,” revamped Graceland hits, songs off his latest album, Surprise, and even a foray into the good ol’ Simon & Garfunkel days.

Accompanied by a six-person band, Simon demonstrated his amazing lasting power with a New Orleans blues feel to his classics. With songs off Surprise – “Outrageous,” “How Can You Live in the Northeast?” and an amazing acoustic “Wartime Prayers” – Simon still maintains the values of the anti-war movement of the ’60s that typified the lyrics of Simon & Garfunkel.

Simon cracked the ice surrounding the not so amicable break up of Simon & Garfunkel much to the amusement of the audience before playing several of their hits. “I used to be in that group. I played the part of Simon,” he said.

With the majority of the crowd well past its prime, it took the more upbeat songs such as “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” and “Cecilia” to get the audience even up off its chairs. The truly young at heart as well as the tipsy crowded in front of the stage and “danced” to their hearts content. He ended the evening on a very high note, blowing the room away with “Late in the Evening” – as part of his three-part encore.

For even the casual Paul Simon fan, his showing at the Bowl left us hungering for more and dreaming of the next time he rolls into town with diamonds on the soles of his shoes.

Daily Nexus AP Editor Anna Oleson-Wheeler would love nothing more than to be Paul Simon’s groupie.