When a band or solo artist announces they're going on a farewell tour, it's usually met with collective shrugs and eyerolls. Why? Because–as Kiss proved–by bilking customers into thinking that this is their last hurrah, they can charge a ridiculous amount of money over and over again and the fans will keep coming. Not Glen Campbell. Last night was actually his last show ever in Los Angeles, and he wasn't kidding.
The 76-year-old singer was diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer's disease last June. Since the announcement, he's been making the rounds as part of his Goodbye Tour, which is slated to end in late October.
Campbell's set was short, clocking in at barely over an hour, but he was in prime form. The songs he performed from his 54-year career struck a chord with the nearly 10,000 people in attendance. The singer, clad in a rhinestone jacket (naturally) and suit, can still jam on guitar, creating his signature sound that has influenced so many musicians.
“I'm so happy I'm here today,” the singer said, which was met with the crowd's approval. “When you're my age, you're happy to be anywhere.”
He mostly stuck to the hits, of which there are many, including “Try A Little Kindness,” “True Grit” (which had a funny John Wayne anecdote), “Witchita Lineman” and of course, “Rhinestone Cowboy.” In the middle of his set, the singer, who was the first country musician to win the Grammy for Album of the Year for By The Time I Get To Phoenix, took a break and let his children Ashley (who is quite the looker) and Shannon perform a few songs from their own band. You could see Campbell watching from the side of the stage, beaming like a proud papa would.
The first half of the show featured Dawes acting as the house band while Jackson Browne, Jenny Lewis, Kris Kristofferson, Lucinda Williams and Courtney Taylor-Taylor of The Dandy Warhols paid tribute to the headliner. Due to his extensive catalog, the aforementioned musicians performed songs that fans may not have realized that the singer played an important part in. Some weren't aware that Campbell lent his guitar to loads of studio sessions including the Beach Boys, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra amongst others and played a part in Phil Spector's Wall of Sound.
Many fans complained about the opening tribute, grumbling that the singer should have played a longer set. But the openers did manage to do the songs justice. Highlights included Williams' “Turn Around, Look At Me” (which was used on Kodak commercial), Kristofferson's “Highwayman,” Lewis and Browne's duet on “Let It Be Me” and lastly, Browne's stirring version of the underrated Beach Boys tune “I Know There's An Answer” from Pet Sounds. The ensemble joined to together for an up-tempo, peppy version of “Viva Las Vegas” to close out their opening duties.
While many musicians can't see the writing on the wall and won't quit until it's too late, Campbell is cashing out before things get worse. Instead of a somber farewell, the night was a celebration of an illustrious career, which gave fans both old and new a greater appreciation of one of country music's true icons.
Critical Bias: This should be the blueprint for how a real farewell is conducted. Succinct, tight and with tributes.
The Crowd: A relatively small (based on the venue's size), but loyal group of Campbell fans.
Random Notebook Dump: I know the Kings just won the Stanley Cup, but the number of championship hats spotted at the venue was ridiculous. C'mon people, you didn't even know who the Kings were eight weeks ago, don't pretend like they're the biggest thing now. Sheesh.
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Daniel Kohn is a writer based in Southern California. With bylines in an assortment of outlets, Kohn primarily specializes in music with other interests ranging from sports to food. As a transplant, Kohn loves the beautiful weather and is glad he no longer has to deal with brutal winters. If you see him, say hi and of course, he’s always willing to down a beer or two…if you’re paying.