St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
St George's Park - Paul Simon visits Port Elizabeth
Paul Simon visits Port Elizabeth
Pop star Paul Simon's open-air concert in Port Elizabeth was to be the social highlight of 1992. St George's Park cricket ground was chosen as the venue for the visit on Monday, January 15, 1992.
The concert was held in bitterly cold weather on a huge temporary scaffold stage on the main field. There was a huge rush for tickets when they went on sale, not only from Port Elizabethans, but from East Londoners as well.
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Organisers were very secretive about the number of tickets sold and a spokesman said "Only Paul Simon is allowed to know."
Much to the relief of the organisers, no threats were received from the Azanian National Liberation Army after they had attacked on the premises of a company associated with the Johannesburg leg of the tour.
There were no demonstrators at the airport when he arrived earlier that day. Raymond Mhlaba, who was at the airport to meet him, said he hoped the star's presence in South Africa would "open up interaction and inter-connection" with the rest of the world and that through such contact this country's musicians would be able to further develope their talents.
However, very strict security measures were taken to ensure the safety of the 25,000 fans at the field, with both police and other security organisations present. No liquor was allowed at the show, which started at 5.50pm. The gates opened at 2.30pm.
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A large crowd revelled in the music played by Paul Simon and his supporting programme in their concert in St George's Park on January 15, 1992.
One of the main beneficiaries of the concert was the Port Elizabeth township cricket development programme. The non-racial South African Musicians' Alliance also received a boost from the tour.
Kevin Sutcliffe, the managing director of the Eastern Province Cricket Board, said that the money raised would be used to build concrete cricket pitches and to buy new equipment for the townships.
Twelve pantechnicons were used to bring the tour's sound and lighting equipment from Johannesburg. The sound system was the same as that used by supergroup Dire Straights during their European tour.
Simon is well known for hits such as Sounds of Silence, The Boxer, Scarborough Fair and numbers from his Gracelands albumn.
Popular artist David Kramer, was one of the supporting acts as well as the Port Elizabeth group Bomvu, Cape Town's Dr Victor and the Ratsa Rebels.