Glen Campbell paid a farewell visit to his Irish fans with an a near capacity house at Dublin’s Convention Centre. Supported by his family based band Instant People he gave an almost flawless performance marred and jarred only by the loss of stage lighting about a third of the way into his show and then a constant trickle of totally inconsiderate well-wishers at stage front looking for handshakes, abusing the star’s generosity and good manners, and freaking out most of the rest of the audience. For once I wished for a tighter and more diligent house crew.
The show itself was a credit to all concerned and with Glen’s acknowledged medical condition on everybody’s radar, there was always the possibility of an embarrassing glitch. But under the watchful eyes of mother hen and 35 year veteran musical director T. J. Kuenster and his three children Cal, Shannon and Ashley, that was never allowed to happen. One little guitar fluff in Wichita Lineman was quickly glossed over by the excellent twin lead guitar work of Shannon who shows every sign of becoming a major star in his own right way into the future.
From the start, all the favourite songs were there, By the Time I Get To Phoenix, Where’s the Playground Suzy, Only Make Believe and Rhinestone Cowboy, all drawing huge audience response. They were interspersed with songs from the excellent current album Ghost On The Canvas, especially one called It’s Your Amazing Grace with daughter Ashley. Ashley is also a fine banjo player and together they hit my nostalgia bone with a reprise of the highlight of my first Glen Campbell concert in Dublin’s Carlton Cinema when supported by Anne Murray, Glen had there introduced the world to banjo maestro and future mega producer Carl Jackson with a stunning Dueling Banjos.
The highlights of the evening for me were a powerful rendering of Jimmy Webb’s The Moon’s A Harsh Mistress and a mini guitar marathon on the break in Galveston. Glen’s poignant visit to A Better Place brought a few tears to his enthralled audience. All in all a very enjoyable farewell concert from one of Americana music’s icons who in his career crossed all the boundaries from bluegrass to country and West Coast to standards and leaves us with no regrets and a shed load of great memories.
On Saturday night Glen Campbell kicked alzheimer’s ass, played guitar like a demon, and lost not one fan in the process. May he have a peaceful journey as he faces the one medical spectre that we all dread, in the company of friends, family and legions of devoted fans.
Review and Photograph by Ronnie Norton