Singin' the same old songs

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 November, 2011, 12:00am


'Glen Campbell's Good Times - The Final Farewell Tour' began on August 31, in Toronto, Canada, and is scheduled to finish at the French Lick Resort Casino, in the American state of Indiana, on December 16. Campbell is currently performing in Britain and, unless additions are made to the schedule, Hong Kong will miss out, having played host to the country star just once, in 2007, when he played at the Convention and Exhibition Centre.

At London's Royal Festival Hall, on October 22, Campbell '[did] Elvis impressions and [left] the safety of his autocue to swagger and sing across the stage,' according to Clash Music. 'Even his mess-ups were twisted to be endearing and professional, from his daughter Ashley reminding him to use his capo and what key to be in, to his son joining him on a guitar solo before letting his dad return to centre stage.

'The banter may not have been as strong as yesteryear, and his band may have been commanded to just start playing over his chat so he doesn't lose track, but everything else was solid as a rock,' said the website's reviewer.

In Los Angeles, on October 6, 'Campbell was the same funny, relaxed, charismatic guy he's always been,' wrote Randall Roberts in the Los Angeles Times, 'and his fingers still rolled out those smooth Stratocaster lines ... Or, as Campbell humorously acknowledged after a particularly nuanced solo, 'I've got a few licks left - I've been practising.''

However, 'throughout the hour-and-a-half set, his fingers at times stumbled, as did his mind, which on a few occasions lost track of lyrics on the teleprompter and, in banter between a number of songs, [he] absent-mindedly dwelled on a particular quote from [comedienne] Minnie Pearl. 'I'm proud to be here,' he said, before adding, 'I'm proud to be anywhere.'

'Throughout the show [in Saint Charles, Missouri], Campbell appeared restless, grabbing the microphone off its stand and wandering the stage,' wrote reviewer Daniel Durchholz. 'It seemed as if he longed to stroll beyond the row of stage monitors and teleprompters hat fed him the lyrics to his songs, but nearly every time he did, he flubbed a line and had to retreat.

'He tried to dismiss some of the rough spots with humour; other times, he just seemed befuddled.'

Almost all reviewers record sympathetic, encouraging audiences and a warmth generated by Campbell's three children helping their father through the difficult bits. All write, too, of the genuine admiration elicited by Campbell's undiminished musical ability.

'The fumbles didn't detract from, but added to, the wonder of it all,' concluded Roberts, 'because the misfires were inevitably followed by long runs of chrome-toned solos that conjured ghosts of great twang guitarists past.'

Reviewer M.J. Fine, writing for Philadelphia's Citypaper, perhaps summed up the mood surrounding the tour - and Campbell's retirement - best.

'Unlike Johnny Cash, who had a resurgence at the end of his career, Campbell decided he had just one album left in him, enough stamina for a few months of farewell shows. [The show at the Irvine Auditorium] seemed more like a valedictory than a victory lap. But both the star and his admirers felt blessed to part ways on such good terms.'