Review by Alan Goldberg
Photographs by Gary Goldberg
Glen Campbell brought his Farewell Tour to the intimate Showroom of the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona on Friday, April 20, for a set that covered most of his hits, a cover or two, and a few songs from his most recent release.
The backing/supporting band Instant People, which includes three of Campbell’s own children, started the show with a half-hour set of Americana-tinged country. When the main attraction stepped out to rousing applause, he was quick to get down to business, opening with “Gentle On My Mind.” More crowd-pleasing numbers followed, including “Galveston,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and “Try a Little Kindness.” Giving many nods to the man who wrote several of his ’60s hit singles, Jimmy Webb, he continued on with “Where’s the Playground Susie” and “Didn’t We.” The 75-year-old country music star appeared fit and relaxed, joking about how much his head itched or that his wife was off gambling in the casino somewhere.
An energetic version of “I Can’t Stop Loving You” seemed to get the mostly middle-aged audience swaying in their seats. Campbell’s voice was clear and strong. Yes, there were a few flubs along the way, such as when he checked with longtime keyboardist T.J. Kuenster about a line during “The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress,” but all in all, nothing that significant, really. Frankly, had I not known about his Alzheimer’s condition, I would probably have thought nothing of it. After all, here is a septuagenarian, just two days shy of his 76th birthday, on a cross-country tour and with a 50+ year career under his belt – I’d say he’s entitled.
The show got more interesting when daughter Ashley Campbell grabbed her banjo and, side-by-side with her dad on his acoustic, performed a rousing version of “Dueling Banjos.” Ol’ Glen’s guitar playing was crisp and on cue, demonstrating that he can still belt out a mean solo. There are some things you just never forget.
Then, it was time for him to take a short break. After band member introductions, the group sans Glen performed “Hey Little One,” from his 1968 album of the same title. The Rhinestone Cowboy re-emerged, as they then kicked into the Paul Westerberg-penned “Any Trouble.” Personally, I would’ve loved to have heard more from the latest and last endeavor “Ghost On the Canvas” – such as the title track and/or “A Thousand Lifetimes,” which were not played. But the warm and flowing “It’s Your Amazing Grace” made up for that somewhat.
The much anticipated smash singles “Wichita Lineman” and “Rhinestone Cowboy” closed the show. Coming back for the traditional encore, the close-knit ensemble churned out another ’70s nugget, “Southern Nights,” before calling it a night with “A Better Place,” a spiritual song about the ups and downs of life, being close to the ones you love, and what awaits you in the end. A fitting close for Mr. Campbell as he rides off into the sunset.
GLEN CAMPBELL SET LIST
Gentle On My Mind
By the Time I Get to Phoenix
Try a Little Kindness
Where’s the Playground Susie
I Can’t Stop Loving You (Ray Charles)
(Glen takes short break, daughter Ashley does band introductions)
Hey Little One (band only)
It’s Your Amazing Grace
The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress
Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.)
A Better Place