Tuesday, September 11, 2012

GLEN CAMPBELL - Long Center for the Performing Arts 9-9-12

This concert is part of Glen's Farewell Tour.  He announced last year he'd been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  I'd never seen him and he is one of my all time favorites.  There was a day when he and The Beatles sat side by side on my mantel of musical greats.
Knew it would be bittersweet, this show.  Also was prepared for it to be not a very good concert.  Trying to cover my bases.  Brace for the worst, right?  Couldn't have been more wrong.  This show was so much better than I thought it would be.
He started the show with my all time favorite song ever, "Gentle On My Mind," which was written by John Hartford. 
Yes, he forgot a few lyrics early in the show, but would pick right back up and after the first couple of songs, he did fine.  He didn't miss anything on guitar.  In fact, he was mind blowing.  Did several solos and it was unreal how locked in he was.  Stellar as ever!  Great to watch! 
He was like a kid at times. When on his prompter the name of the next song he was going to play would come up, sometimes he'd go "Oh, I really like that one!" or "Oh, that is one of my favorites!" 
He mentioned Jimmy Webb probably 1/2 a dozen times. The first was when he was introducing "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" and he said "naturally, Jimmy Webb." What struck me about that was a few years ago when I saw Jimmy Webb down at Blue Rock (next to seeing Bruce Springsteen, about my biggest highlight ever) and Jimmy told the story (he's got a bunch and in the grand tradition of the Irish, is a master storyteller) about making it. He said the reason he was successful was due to 2 people who, every time they sang one of his songs, would tell their audience "and that was written by Jimmy Webb" and those 2 people were Frank Sinatra and Glen Campbell. So here we are, 30 some years later, and Glen is still telling the audience, giving Jimmy his props.  
He was backed by a 6 piece band, 3 of whom are his kids.  His daughter keeps a pretty close eye on him during the performance.  Struck me how tough that must be.  The pianist has been with Glen for 35 years.  They did a couple of Jimmy Webb songs together, one being "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress," just the two of them on stage and that was very poignant.   
We got all of the hits.  "Galveston," "Rhinestone Cowboy," "Wichita Lineman," "Southern Nights," "Try A Little  Kindness," "True Grit," "Where's The Playground, Susie."  I wish I could remember which song it was but he even yodeled!  It was great!  Played about 70 minutes.  Paid $69 for the ticket.  A bargain as I won't forget this evening.  We also got to hear his most recent, "A Better Place."  It's a great song with lyrics that are in the present:
"One thing I know
The world's been good to me
A better place, awaits you'll see
Some days I'm so confused, Lord
My past gets in my way
I need the ones I love, Lord

More and more each day"
Mentioned his kids being part of the band.  His one son plays drums, another plays guitar and his daughter is a multi-instrumentalist playing banjo, mandolin and keyboards.  She and Glen did a killer "Dueling Banjos" together.  For all I know she may play more but I saw her play all 3 of these.  Anyway, they are good!  I've seen enough kids who I felt wouldn't be on the stage if they didn't have the last name.  Not the case here.  This is the classic fruit not falling far from the tree.  They were Glen's opening act (not the drummer) but the other 2 sang and played for 30 minutes.  They were really good.  Played original music and held the audience.  That's not so easy as an opener, sometimes, but not the case with these 2.  The other son, the drummer, only played when Glen came out.  I couldn't get over how good he was, either.    
I hadn't thought about it until being at this performance.  I see what music does for people with dementia/Alzheimer's all the time but hadn't thought about the musician who is struck by it.  I'll bet music will be the last thing to leave him.  I hope playing guitar is one of the last things he ever does.

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