Monday, April 16, 2012

Glen Campbell: C.Y. Stephens Ames, IA 4/15/12

Last night legendary Country and Western music star Glen Campbell played to a full house at C.Y. Stephens Auditorium in Ames. It was one of many stops on The Goodbye Tour, which is showcasing the legendary performer's life in song while bringing awareness to the debilitating disease which is eating his brain. Having suffered from memory loss for several years, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in January of 2011. The Goodbye Tour is an acknowledgement to this horrible disease and one final chance to perform for his fans across the United States.

Joining him on tour is Instant People, a band which features three of his children, Cal, Shannon and daughter Ashley. This band, in addition with his long time keyboardist T.J. Kuenster, joined him onstage for what was a wonderful performance from a play list that spanned throughout a long and established career.

For someone who is suffering from Alzheimer's Disease, Glen Campbell put on a hell of a show.

Right out of the gate he tackled what is perhaps his most lyrically-challenging song, "Gentle On My Mind." He handled it with ease for the most part, only experiencing a brief stumble on the third verse. However, as quickly as he forgot the lyrics, he picked them up again, and caught up with the song in mid flow. It was an occurrence that would happen throughout the evening.

It would probably be a safe assumption that most of the 2600 people in attendance were aware of Campbell's handicap, and he was given a free pass. The times he did mess up and forget the words to the songs were treated with respect and dignity. He himself made light of the situation by constantly talking to the audience, relating stories, and even making fun of himself. At one point while his daughter Ashley was tuning her banjo, he suggested to his bandmates that he tell some jokes to keep the audience entertained.

Then he turned to the crowd and said, "I probably know 100 jokes but I can't remember any of them."

Everybody had a good laugh, including Campbell. One can only imagine that having fun with the symptoms of his disease works as therapy for the 75 year old crooner... Especially when he is able to share these awkward moments with those he loves the most doing what he's always done.

Campbell singing "Lovesick Blues". Photo by Bigfoot Diaries
(Click to Enlarge)

His band was there to pick him up as needed, which surprisingly, really wasn't as often as one might think. Without fail he handled "By The Time I Get To Phoenix." Same goes for "Try a Little Kindness," and the Don Gibson classic, "I Can't Stop Loving You." He didn't miss a beat with his rendition of Hank Williams "Lovesick Blues," and he handled the yodelling parts of the song with ease. His voice seemed to get stronger as the night wore on.

One of Campbell's greatest attributes is his affinity for picking the guitar. It literally was his bread and butter early in his career when he was a session musician playing alongside the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Buck Owens, Dean Martin, Jerry Reed, among many others.

He didn't disappoint tonight as he ripped off  one blistering guitar solo after another throughout his play list. During one particular highlight of the evening, he pitted his black Fender Stat against his daughter's banjo for a jaw dropping battle of the strings on "Dueling Banjos."

"Dueling Banjos" Photo by Bigfoot Diaries (Click to Enlarge)
He offered a tribute to Jimmy Webb, the lyricist with whom Campbell wrote most of his hits with, mentioning his name a few times before performing a certain song. Examples were "Where's the Playground Susie," "Wichita Lineman," and "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", a song made as famous by Linda Ronstadt and Joe Cocker as it was by Campbell. "Lineman" was perhaps the highlight of the night, taking honors as the crowd's favorite. Four times throughout the evening the audience rose to it's feet and offered a standing ovation. "Witchita Lineman" was one of those times.

The final song of the night was a moving number from Campbell's latest release, Ghost on the Canvas called "A Better Place." It was a nice ending to the evening, and in a lot of ways a summary of what could only be described as his legendary existence. Once again Campbell faced his disease head on, grabbing it by the horns.

"Sometimes, I'm so confused, Lord," He sang. "My past gets in my way. I need the ones I love, Lord. More and more each day."

This time the standing ovation lasted until the lights came on.


Set List:

"Gentle on My Mind"
"By the Time I Get to Phoenix"
"Try a Little Kindness"
"Where's the Playground Susie" Jimmy Webb
"Didn't We"
"I Can't Stop Loving You"
"True Grit"
"Lovesick Blues"
"Dueling Banjos"

"Hey Little One" (Without Glen Campbell)

"Any Trouble"
"It's Your Amazing Grace"
"The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"
"Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.)"
"Wichita Lineman"
"Rhinestone Cowboy"


"Southern Nights"
"A Better Place"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glad you got to see one of your favs, brother, great write up on the concert, Sounds like it was amazing!