Glen Campbell…What can you say about him? He is An American Legend. A musician. An Icon. An Actor. And, a man that is dealing with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
With the public announcement a few months ago that he is suffering from this he decided to embark on his Goodbye tour. You got to hand to it to him. He could stay home and let this debilitating disease slowly rob him and his family like so many others but instead he is taking it out on the road. Therapeutic? Of course it has to be. Plus if I had to guess, it has to be comforting to do what you know what to do in times of duress. His is to play music.
So on June 8th he rolled into Evansville Indiana at the Aiken Center. I have, like a lot of people my age and older grew up on Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Reed just to name a few and all the variety shows that have long gone away and really should be brought back. Back when the whole family could sit around the television and watch the same programs and the parents didn’t have to worry about what was seen or heard.
Back to the Concert, first off. I only found out about it one day out of the blue by looking up his tour dates and saw where he was making a stop in Evansville. I usually am a radio scanner, meaning if I don’t like the song on the radio I hit the scan button and let it scan the “whole dial” until something comes on I like. Am I the only one that does that? Probably but what the heck…So the radio stops on country, pop, rock, gospel, talk radio. Anywhere that plays something that catches my ear. I never heard one Glen Campbell commercial though I have been told they were played… I just missed them I guess.
So after a nice meal at O’Charley’s with my wife we head over to the Aiken Center. I still call it “the Center”. First thing we notice is that we are probably the youngest people at the show and we are in our mid 40’s. The where hoverrounds’, wheel chairs and walkers everywhere… It was like every rest home in the Tri State was represented that night. We go through the ticket gates, grab a couple of beers and head to our seats.
A few things I noticed. First off, the Center, it wasn’t full. I mean Glen Campbell is an American Icon. He was in the real “True Grit” movie with John Wayne too… He wrote and played on the Beach Boys albums including “Pet Sounds” the one that influenced the Beatles and he played on Frank Sinatra’s albums just to mention two. An ICON… AN AMERICAN LEGEND….yet no one was there. The place wasn’t even half full. There were empty seats everywhere… What happened? I have to wonder if Evansville is really that apathetic to concerts or was it the lack of advertising or both?
Second thing, and this could have been requested from the band but the music before the show was barely audible. It was about as loud as Muzak. That’s the music that is played in elevators and some large department stores. Maybe it’s that low in order to not encourage the older people into “head banging” or making out?
The show started promptly at 8pm. Victoria Ghost, comprised of brother and sister act Shannon and Ashley Campbell was the opening act. No fan fare, No one Mc’d the show. They just walked out on stage and introduced themselves. Their music style was kinda new country with bluegrass flair. Good stuff and their harmonies were amazing! They told the story about growing up in Arizona and catching baby quails and then played a song of the same title. The played four or five songs and I thought they were all great. They were well received by the audience. And then they said they would be back in a few minutes with Glen Campbell!
In about five minutes he and the band walked out on stage. Once again, no one MC”d it. I would have gladly announced it but I wasn’t asked … Glen introduced himself and said he “Was glad to be here! Glad to be anywhere”! Which got the crowd to laughing and he went right into “Gentle on my mind”. He played one hit after another. I don’t remember the order or all of them but he played “Wichita Lineman”, “Galveston”, Dueling banjo’s, which he and his daughter Ashley shared “Hot licks” as he called them. “Southern Nights”, Rhinestone Cowboy”, “Amazing Grace”, “Love Struck blues”, “Better Place” just to name a few.
Glen did complain that he was cold. It was cold in the auditorium. His daughter went and got him a blue hoodie that he put on and he zipped it up and pulled the hoodie over his head. It reminded me of “Cornholio” from Beavis and butthead. But he was cold so I don’t blame him. I did notice the three computer monitor Teleprompters about the stage but Glen is suffering from Alzheimer’s so it’s understandable he needed them. He also asked once or twice what key a song was in…My wife has worked with patients that are suffering from that disease and she could tell he is struggling with it. As a musician I could tell when he got “lost” on his guitar and when he was relying on the teleprompter and the band to “carry” him through some of the spots but you know what? So what. He is doing what he knows he has little time left to enjoy and God Bless him for it. At the end of the night, he took a bow with his band and walked off stage. Nothing fancy, no encores. The house lights were coming up before he got off the stage. It was 9:45 pm and the show was over.
My opinion of the show? It was an honor and a pleasure to see him. I had only seen him on TV growing up and have enjoyed his music all my life. If you were looking for a slick Vegas style music show this isn’t it. If you are looking for an honest show without the fan fare and great songs, this is for you.
In closing, He is worth going to see just for his legacy. I had a great time and recommend his show. He is an America Icon riding off in to the sunset on his own terms and enjoying playing music with his kids for as long as he can.
Glen, if you come across this review by chance, you are truly an inspiration and a hero to me!
Check out his latest video entitled”A Better Place”
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