Friday 4 November 2011

Thank You & Goodbye

Glen Campbell In Concert
Brighton Dome 
Thursday 3rd November

Glen Campbell received one of the warmest welcomes I have ever witnessed at a concert hall. The recent announcement that he is suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's meant that this would indeed be his final tour and the audience came in their numbers to bid him and his music a fond and loving farewell. It was a heartwarming evening tinged with sadness and regret that we would not be seeing this wonderful singer and musician on our shores again. Our hearts go out to him and his family and we wish him well.

Glen Campbell was well looked after on stage as his daughter and two sons formed part of his very talented backing band. They have clearly inherited his musical talent as they and long term friend and musical director T.J. Kuenster ably supported him throughout as they embarked on an evening of wonderful music and warm memories.

Glen's musical journey began way back in the early sixties when he was a much sought after session musician. He was a guitar player with real ability who was in demand and played with Phil Spector's legendary Wrecking Crew and at one point was even playing in the Beach Boys as a replacement for the gifted Brian Wilson who had quit touring in late 1964. His solo career got off to a somewhat stuttering start until Gentle On My Mind became his first major hit. Then he really struck gold and found Worldwide fame when he recorded the Jimmy Webb classic Wichita Lineman. He struck up a long and lasting friendship with the songwriter that was to be the making of his career as a solo artist and he became the greatest exponent and interpreter of Jimmy Webb's beautifully written songs.

The concert opened with Gentle On My Mind and was followed by the classic Galveston. The show continued with more of his greatest hits like Try A Little Kindness and It's Only Make Believe but it was the Jimmy Webb songs that really showed him at his best and resonated with his enthralled audience. Songs like Where's The Playground Suzie and Dreams Of The Everyday Housewife were well performed but he finally got to me with the heart wrenching and moving By The Time I Get To Phoenix. We also heard some new material from his excellent recently released album Ghost On The Canvas. We listened to the title track followed by  Your Amazing Grace and Any Trouble. All excellent songs well sung. 

We even had time for Duelling Banjos when he and his daughter Ashley duetted on their musical instruments at a great pace, all very enjoyable. There weren't many obvious signs of his illness although he did have his lyrics prompted by autocue, given the circumstances this was understandable and did not detract from his performance, vocally he sounded great, especially for someone who is unbelievably in his seventies. The audience were certainly happy just to be there in his company as we heard a sparse and simple arrangement for yet another Webb composition, The Moon's A Harsh Mistress, which was beautifully sung with just his MD on keyboards whilst his three children sat on stage watching their dad sing. Very touching.

He finally had my bottom lip quivering when we heard my personal favourite Wichita Lineman as the evening headed to a close and the show ended with the whole audience singing along to Rhinestone Cowboy. The audience demanded an encore and inevitably it followed as we heard In My Arms and the perfect show closer A Better Place, where we got to hear that Glen Campbell's religious beliefs will help him and his family as they move along the difficult road that lies ahead.

It's hard not to get emotional when a musical legend eventually has to stop performing and I'm sure there was a tear in many a fan's eye as he finally walked off stage in Brighton. We can only say thank you and goodbye, it was a privilege and a pleasure to see and hear you one last time Mr. Campbell.

Set list (as I remember it):
Gentle On My Mind
Try A Little Kindness
It’s Only Make Believe
Where’s The Playground Susie?
Dreams of the Everyday Housewife
By The Time I Get To Phoenix
Lovesick Blues
Guitar / banjo duet with Ashley Campbell (Duelling Banjos)
Hey Little One – Ashley Campbell & Shannon Campbell

Ghost On The Canvas
Your Amazing Grace
Any Trouble
Southern Nights
The Moon's A Harsh Mistress
Wichita Lineman
Rhinestone Cowboy

In My Arms
A Better Place

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