Like many in his audience, I didn't know what to expect when I went to see the Glen Campbell Goodbye Tour on June 2 at The Las Vegas Hotel (used to be the Las Vegas Hilton). When it ended, I felt privileged that I'd had the opportunity to be in the audience.
Last June, Campbell announced he'd been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and would be embarking on a "Goodbye Tour" over the coming months. It began last year and looks to be ending in August with some gigs in Australia.
Knowing he's been stricken by Alzheimer's, I was a bit nervous about seeing him. The night before, I heard, there'd been some difficulty. But, make no mistake, this is not a review of a person with Alzheimer's trying to perform. This is a review of a master musician playing his music and, considering the circumstances - playing it masterfully.
Playing the room that will forever be known as the venue where Elvis made his Las Vegas début, Campbell appropriately brought the audience back to his heyday of hit-making. His performance brought to mind the name of his TV series - The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour - because that is also an apt name for his show.
The evening began with two of his children, daughter Ashley and son Shannon (other son Cal was on drums) singing some of the music their group Victoria's Ghost does. It was good stuff. They'd been on tour with their father for what they called "Glen's last ride" and were very proud, happy children.
When Campbell came on he began with "Gentle On My Mind" and sang, among others, "Galveston," "Didn't We," "I Can't Stop Loving You," "By the Time I Get To Phoenix," "Wichita Lineman," "The Moon's A Harsh Mistress," "Rhinestone Cowboy" and "Southern Nights."
Many of those were songs written by Jimmy Webb and Campbell credited the songwriter for his career.
He closed with a song he recorded for Ghost On The Canvas, his farewell album released last August. The song is called "A Better Place" and goes, in part:
Some days I'm so confused, Lord
My past gets in my way
I need the ones I love, Lord
More and more each day
One thing I know
The world's been good to me
A better place, awaits you'll see
Throughout the show, Campbell was right there, playing and singing as well as he did years ago. There was a bit of disorientation when he came onstage after a brief break but he got his bearings quickly and was on track again.
I am actually grateful to the LVH for giving Glen Campbell as stage once more in Las Vegas.
As noted, he is still touring and you can find out when he'll be near you at http://www.Glencampbellmusic.com/tour. If he is near you, go see him. You'll be glad you did.