Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Review: Glen Campbell @ Wilbur Theater, Boston, MA


by John Reed

It is impossible not to admire Glen Campbell. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease has not stopped this Arkansas native from embarking upon, and even extending his “Goodbye Tour.” By fighting through his illness and touring (which is hard enough without health issues!), certainly earns Campbell a spot as one of the toughest musicians ever (so it’s no wonder why he was chosen to star alongside icon John Wayne in the original True Grit film).

Campbell returned to Boston (for the second time in 2012) to perform one last time for his Beantown fans on October 17th at The Wilbur Theater.

After a very well received set by Victoria's Ghost (which includes Campbell’s daughter Ashley and son Shannon – who Campbell also used as his backing band), Campbell took the stage and masterfully resurrected Gentle On My Mind.

Looking amazing for what he has been through, Campbell was in great spirits and even poked fun at his problem remembering lines a few times and even lamented that he has gained some weight (though he looked in fantastic shape to all in the audience).

The show was mostly a “greatest hits” jukebox night (with a couple new tunes thrown in) – which is exactly what the crowd wanted. Campbell was in strong voice all night, but was especially vocally touching on By the Time I Get to Phoenix. When his crooned the final line, “She just didn't know I would really go,” it was impossible not to get a bit choked up.

An audience member yelled out at one point to ask if Campbell had ever played with Elvis Presley and he said “many times” and was very complimentary of Presley’s character.

While Campbell admitted his had trouble with the lyrics at times, his guitar playing right on track and it was great to see him rip out some amazing guitar solo’s (Campbell was a much sought after studio musician in the 60’s prior to his solo career). His fingerpicking reached a peak when he and his daughter, who was manning a banjo, traded licks on the classic Dueling Banjos.

Hearing his signature Rhinestone Cowboy followed up by Southern Nights also reminded all how this “country” star had also ruled the pop charts at times in the mid-70’s.

While it is sad that this really is the last time for Campbell in Boston, he left not with his legacy just intact – but augmented.

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