Glen Campbell (with Guest Debbie Campbell)
10 December 2006
Sun Coast Resort, Summerlin, NV
I missed seeing Glen Campbell in Las Vegas in early 2003, because a Colorado blizzard refused to let me out of town, neither by air nor by ground.
In between then and now, Glen ended up in prison for a brief time, after which he expressed a desire to reduce his touring schedule. For that reason, I'm grateful that my friend and I were able to get front-row seats for a theatre performance as part of a four-night stand for Glen and his band in a luxurious neighborhood West of Las Vegas, NV.
After finding our seats, we saw Glen's daughter Debbie walking through the ballroom to the backstage door, mentioning to a friend that she wasn't feeling well. Then, as the room darkened and Glen, now with stylish, longer hair in the back, started out on the stage, we noticed somewhat of a limp, as well as a bandage around his right wrist.
Picking his way through his opening number, Glen tried adjusting the bandage to reduce interference with his guitar playing. And, when starting the opener, ["Hi I'm Glen Campbell", followed by] "Gentle On My Mind", Glen missed the opening cue by a beat, but the band quickly and professionally adjusted.
Missing the beat is likely explainable with Glen's subsequent vocalization that he couldn't hear his monitor.
The injuries, however, Glen explained as being due to him rolling his golfcart the previous day. Given Glen's obsession with his favorite sport, an accident like this was probably going to happen at some point.
During parts of the evening, Glen seemed slightly shaky, repeating his words on a couple occasions. But, all in all, Glen, now dressed in Nashville, TN attire, put on a fine show overall, including two Hank Williams songs, "Love Sick Blues", and one not on the planned setlist, "Honky Tonk Blues", during which Glen broke a string on his ovation acoustic and commented, "The equipment couldn't take it!".
For this reason, Glen chose to make an exceptionally rare performance of "Classical Gas" on his Fender electric! The song sounded strangely interesting.
While making way for the now-standard Debbie Campbell intermission, Glen limped off the stage, with broken-stringed guitar in hand, with a mock frown on his face, much to the humor of the crowd.
Debbie's medley included "Stand By Your Man" and a re-worded "(I'm Proud To Be) A Coal Miner's Daughter".
When Glen walked back on stage, Glen and Debbie poked fun at each other like siblings, showing what a strong friendship they've developed in the last 12 years of working together. They duetted on a rare "United We Stand" previously popularized in 1970 by a group named Brotherhood of Man.
Glen very much impressed the crowd by completing the last rapid-pace 12-string Hamer guitar picking of "William Tell Overture" over his head. That's not being a showoff; rather, with a broken hand, that's being a trouper.
The best performance of the evening was a delightfully-arranged version of Gordon Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind"--very Byrdsian, folk-rockish. Prior this evening, this song did not hardly get my attention at all--but tonight Glen's interpretation of this song was unbelievably wonderful. That guy, I tell you, can take any song, and make it ten times better with his arrangements. In Rock & Roll history, my opinion is that only Elvis, maybe, was able to match this particular skill.
Glen played in the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" session in the early 1960s, and also played/sang the same song this evening.
At the end of the show, Glen dug out "Winter Wonderland" and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" from his Christmas album collection. And, these two worked well, thanks largely to musical director, keyboardist, T.J. Kuenster, and backing musicians guitarist Kenny Skaggs, bassist Russell Skaggs, and drummer Gary Bruzzebe.
After the show I was able to ask for and receive the printout of the setlist placed in front of Glen's microphone stand:
Prior to this show, the local news reported that the one and only Tanya Tucker was planning to make an un-scheduled visit on stage. Subsequent rumors suggested that the event staff were responding by increasing security. None of the above materialized into reality.
Self-described as just "a country boy at heart", Glen repeatedly gives performances with sincerity and almost-but-not-quite painful candor. Glen grew up in a relatively humble Arkansas environment, and has been, throughout his life, a genuinely simple man, with an honest heart, and with a tremendous amount of talent. The audence that showed up to see Glen Campbell this evening expdected no more, and no less, and were very satisfied as a result.
[****] - Steven T.
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