I chase the goosebumps” Art Garfunkel told a rapt crowd at Oxford New Theatre. “It’s quasi-religious.” He’s not wrong.

In a career stretching back to the head days of New York’s 1960s folk-rock scene, and alongside his lifelong friend, the singer-songwriter Paul Simon, the singer has been responsible for some of the most enduring songs of all time – tunes sure to prick the hairs on the back of the neck and bring a lump to the throat.

All of that was very much in evidence when the performer, dressed all in black and accompanied throughout by just a keyboardist and acoustic guitarist, took fans on a journey through his career in music, poetry and prose from his autobiographically.

There were solo tunes – opener The Things We’ve Handed Down and an emotion-drenched Bright Eyes, which left barely a dry eye in the house. And there were also covers – including a pair of heart-stopping duets with his sublimely vocally talented son Arthur Jr on the Everly Brothers Devoted to You and Let it Be Me.

“He’s got the voice now,” Art laughed, “But I’ve got the hits!”

And it was those hits we were really there for, and they came thick and fast in a real crowd-pleaser of a show: The Boxer, A Heart in New York, Scarborough Fair, Homeward Bound and Bridge Over Troubled Water.

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Renditions were faithful but embellished with the odd riff and flourish.

Between songs he chatted whimsically and with charm and humility as if we were in a Greenwich Village basement not a packed 1,800-capacity theatre.

What shone through was his deep affection for Britain, a country which he said had always been good to him. He also seemed genuinely delighted, surprised even, at the reaction from the crowd – as if it could be anything else but adoring.

Familiar tunes were received with cheers and applause and followed by roars of appreciation culminating in a pair of standing ovations.

Art confessed to being nervous on what was the first night of an 11 date tour, though he seemed far from it. And by the time he rolled out the words “Hello darkness, my old friend...” and raised the roof with Sound of Silence, we were solidly in his hands.

Live music simply does not get better. It was an honour to be in the presence of a true icon and genuinely lovely human being.