DATE: Saturday 22nd October 2011
VENUE: Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, London
COST: £42.50 (no fee as were members)
RATING: Thank You and Good Bye
This show was a sell-out, and the RFH had even opened up the choir section behind the stage to cram more people in!
Instant People opened up the night’s proceedings – a 5 piece band, 3 of who (we were later to find out) were siblings and had the Campbell name…. they were Glen’s children. They were actually really good – the banjo playing keyboardist was Glen’s daughter Ashley, the Ovation guitar player was his son, as was the drummer (safely caged behind Perspex!). The main lead in the group was not a family member but he had a very fine strong voice. The bassist was a mite annoying with a chicken walk and he kept coming off his perch, and then got his lead tangled!
Their style of music can best be described as hypnotic groove and are not unlike the band ‘Grand Drive’ (which includes three brothers called Wilson!) with acoustics and some good harmony.
After a short interval, Instant People were back on stage, this time as Glen’s band. When he walked onto the stage the place erupted, he had a standing ovation and he hadn’t even uttered a single word! His opening number was “Gentle On My Mind” and by the second song, “Galveston”, The Beeb had reached for the hankies. This was going to be a very emotional evening.
Glen has not lost his sense of humour, striking a pose for the press photographers, imitating Elvis during “It’s Only Make Believe” and doing Donald duck impressions! Years of entertaining audiences became clear early on, and the way he moved around the stage showed incredible understanding of how to reach out to everyone there.
His daughter challenged him to a duel, and what we got was “Duelling Banjos.” with her on banjo and him on guitar and what we got was a few minutes of bluegrass delight! No wonder Glen was such a successful session musician – he has not lost any of his finger work on a guitar!!!
Glen left the stage while his kids introduced the band (The Beeb was quite taken with the drummer’s middle name being Caledonia!)… which included his long term keyboardist, T.J. Kuenster, who also seemed to be the musical director and then the band did a lovely cover of one of Glen’s songs, “Hey, Little One”.
Glen came back on stage and gave us “Ghost On The Canvas”, the title track from his new album, which sounded superb. The next set of songs included “Southern Nights” and then he said that if it wasn’t for Jimmy Webb he probably wouldn’t be here doing this right now…. and The Beeb just melted when the first chords of “Wichita Linesman” were played. Without a doubt, one of his top five songs of all time.
The final song was “Rhinestone Cowboy” which had the 4000 strong audience singing along, and Glen, understandably seemed to really love and appreciate this.
As he left the stage, the applause was thunderous and it wasn’t long before he was back in front of the microphone for two final songs, “In My Arms” and the incredibly moving “A Better Place” before he really did mean, “Thank you and goodbye”.
This was a particularly emotional night for The Beeb, because Glen Campbell has always been a particular favourite of his from way back in the sixties, but never got the chance to see him live. The Beeb has always appreciated a good voice.
So, a poignant evening, knowing that after this tour Glen will never hang up his guitar, and no matter what the future holds for him he’ll always have his music to help him on the rest of life’s journey.