Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
“It’s knowing I’m not shackled by forgotten words and bonds
And the ink stains that have dried upon some line
That keeps you in the backroads by the rivers of my memory
That keeps you ever gentle on my mind”
– “Gentle On My Mind” by John Hartford
Yes, there were a few forgotten words when Glen Campbell brought his Farewell Tour to The Egg in Albany, but not so many that anybody in the nearly sold-out crowd seemed to mind. Battling Alzheimer’s Disease, Campbell took the stage and launched into “Gentle On My Mind,” and the love in the room was palpable… from both sides of the stage lights. Campbell needed to see his fans and soak up their applause just as much as his fans needed the opportunity to say goodbye to him.
It was, in the end, a bittersweet but beautiful performance, full of both sorrow and celebration, defiance and acceptance.
At the age of 76, the man can still sing. Oh yes, he can. He rarely side-stepped the high notes, and he nailed every one that he went after, whether it was the crescendo of “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” or the perfectly warbled yodels of Hank Williams’ “Lovesick Blues.”
In addition to Hank Senior, he also paid tribute to George Jones (“She Thinks I Still Care”) and Ray Charles (“I Can’t Stop Loving You”), but a third of his setlist – six of the 17 selections – was comprised of those classic, jaw-dropping Jimmy Webb songs from the bewitching “Wichita Lineman” (featuring a perfect double guitar lead played with his son Shannon Campbell) to the intimate “The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress” (accompanied only by longtime keyboardist-musical director T.J. Kuenster).
Campbell’s guitar playing – always one of his musical strengths – was not quite as consistent, however, and although he reeled off a few absolutely stunning solos, he also lapsed into confusion on others. Fortunately, his backing band – featuring three of his children, Shannon (guitar), Cal (drums) and Ashley Campbell (banjo/keyboards) – kept him moving in the right direction whenever he seemed to falter. (The siblings also offered a stellar opening act performance as Instant People.)
At times, Campbell stuck close by the teleprompter – especially on Paul Westerberg’s “Any Trouble” and the final encore “A Better Place,” the only selections from his magnificent farewell album, “Ghost on the Canvas” – but he also worked the crowd like the veteran showman that he is.
During Instant People’s opening set, Cal Campbell explained, “We’ve learned a lot about the disease, about therapy. And this is part of the therapy – you guys showing up and supporting him.”
“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”
– “A Better Place” by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond
Paul Rapp’s review at Metroland
Michael Eck’s review at The Times Union
Excerpt from David Singer’s review at The Daily Gazette: “Glen Campbell has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Thursday night at his concert in the Egg’s Hart Theater, Campbell, who has said he can forget a lyric or guitar part, didn’t seem to miss a beat. It helped that the audience treated him with reverence for the superstar he is. He opened with ‘Gentle on My Mind,’ plucking a neat solo to flash some of his guitar chops, echoing the phrases of his guitar hero Django Reinhardt. He followed with another hit, ‘Galveston.’ This tune dragged, his vocals a bit off, the band without energy, seemingly cautious. Again he played a cool guitar solo for two choruses to end the song, this time blues-based.”
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)
Lovesick Blues (Hank Williams)
Dueling Banjos (with Ashley Campbell)
Hey Little One (band only)
She Thinks I Still Care (George Jones)
The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress
A Better Place
INSTANT PEOPLE SET LIST
Into the Wonder
Play and Rewind
Waiting on Sunday