Legendary Glen Campbell and daughter, Ashley
Last night my husband and I got to see Glen Campbell perform his “Goodbye Tour” at Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, New Jersey. We didn’t know what to expect because a year ago Glen Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and has been suffering memory loss.
His warm-up act was Instant People, an indie rock/country band which included three of his eight children. They did a wonderful short set (and I really enjoyed them, they had a style similar to one of my favorite new(er) artists, Ben Kweller).
I would definitely love to see them again — performing a longer set!
After a short break, Instant People returned to the stage to assist the legendary Glen Campbell perform. Members of Instant People and others who make up Glen’s band are: Ashley Campbell (banjo, keyboard & vocals); Cal Campbell (drums); Shannon Webb Campbell (guitar); TJ Kuenster (keyboards) who has performed with Glen over 35 years; Ryan Andre Jarred (guitar); and Siggy Sjursen (bass).
Glen hit the stage and began with “Gentle on My Mind.” He was forgetting lyrics from the get-go and had to restart the song.
The best things about the show were: #1, Glen Campbell, at age 78, is still a wonderful showman. This was the first time I ever saw him and he really commands the stage and has a great presence. He still looks good and healthy, in spite of having Alzheimer’s. God bless his soul.
#2, Glen can still play the guitar. And unless you’re a musician or have a really good ear, you may not even realize he was playing the wrong key. (Most of the time I didn’t, but one song it was very obvious and his daughter, Ashley, kept helping him out and mouthing the right key to him).
#3, To hear so many songs that I love and have loved since I was a little girl, performed right before me by a legend gave me thrills throughout the night. I screamed like a teenager throughout the show. Even though he did many hits, including “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Southern Nights” I have to say my all time favorite Glen Campbell song is — and always will be — “Galveston.”
We ran into a bunch of friends at the show, and one mentioned how sad it was to hear the line in “Galveston,” that says, “I’m so afraid of dying” as that line now takes on a whole new poignant meaning, as he called this his “Good-Bye” tour. And thinking about this, will now and forever bring tears to my eyes.
Yes, Glen struggled a lot with his set. Aside from forgetting words and chords, it seemed something was going wrong with the bassist, Siggy Sjursen and Glen didn’t want him to play. That was sad to see and I felt so bad for the kid, as I thought he was doing a great job (and so did my husband, who is also a professional bassist). Siggy sat out a few songs, then eventually left the stage.
We were guessing that maybe because of the Alzheimers something he heard from the bass was throwing him off. Maybe we’ll find out soon enough when some of the professional reviews come out.
But aside from the struggles, his fans were extremely supportive and cheered him on throughout the night with several standing ovations.
His daughter, Ashley, was a doll. She watched over him during the entire set, coaching and encouraging him, and taking flowers from fans and putting them aside for him. The father/daughter love between the two is so evident and moving. Ashley is a beautiful girl, no doubt, a cross between Christina Applegate and Lisa Marie Presley. But her beauty also comes from within. Such a young girl (I just read she is only 24 or 25), and seemingly wise for her years, looking out for her daddy is heart-rendering.
Glen and Ashley did a killer dueling banjo and guitar duet that was off the hook fantastic.
One of my favorite Glen Campbell songs, “Country Boy” wasn’t performed. But he has so many hits, that it was expected he would omit a few. What I am grateful for was that he did the ENTIRE songs! I always hate going to see an artist and they chop up songs and make them into “medleys.” It’s like painting a mustache on a Mona Lisa and simply should not be done.
It was nice to hear a few tunes from his new album, “Ghost on the Canvas.” It’s a great album and on it are collaborations with Paul Westerberg, Jakob Dylan, Chris Issak, Rick Nielson and Billy Corgan.
Prior to the show we met a nice bunch of ladies who called themselves the “biggest Glen Campbell fans from New Jersey.” They told us they saw him perform in the 1970s! (I am so jealous!) and gave him flowers.
After the show, my husband and I walked past the tour bus. I said, “It’s a gorgeous night, let’s hang out a bit.”
The first thing we witnessed was bassist Siggy Sjursen asking where the nearest bar was.
When Siggy returned, I whispered to my husband to tell him that he was great in spite of what happened. My husband yelled out to him, “You were great, man!”
After we saw some fans taking pictures with Siggy, we asked if we could take a picture. He was generous enough to do so and even patted me on the back when I said “Thank you” and he said, “Thank YOU” back.
Soon afterwards Ashley came out of the tour bus and met with fans and took photos. I straight out told her, “You’re beautiful, talented and you take such good care of your father.” She was really appreciative that I said the part about taking care of her father.
The love between those two reminds me of how much I love (and miss) my late grandmother.
I wish Mr. Campbell lots of luck as he continues his tour. This is a show that will be etched in my mind for a very long time!