Last Night: Glen Campbell At Stafford Centre

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Photos by Jason Wolter
Glen Campbell
Stafford Centre
September 21, 2011

Thursday night may have been the most profoundly uncomfortable Aftermath has ever been watching a live performance.

In the past year, we have seen many artists of advanced years in concert, from Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson to Texas Johnny Brown and Little Joe Washington. Age has taken its toll on their physical abilities to varying degrees, but all of them had their wits about them. Glen Campbell did not, at least not completely.

Campbell, 75, and his wife Kim announced he had Alzheimer's Disease this past June. It was a preemptive strike, they told People magazine, so that "if he flubs a lyric or gets confused on stage, I wouldn't want people to think, 'What's the matter with him? Is he drunk?" Kim said.

How long he has had it is anyone's guess, but Aftermath has had enough Alzheimer's experience within our own family to know that once the symptoms manifest themselves enough for a proper diagnosis, the condition is already pretty advanced.

The Campbells should be commended for their candor, and even for wanting to give the singer one more chance to say thank you - and goodbye - to his fans. But at what cost? He did flub lyrics, and get confused, and more. Besides making several quips about not remembering things, Campbell asked several times what key a song was in, couldn't remember the name of perhaps his biggest hit, "Wichita Lineman," and had to stop one song completely and start over. Painfully.

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On top of that, Campbell is touring with several of his children in his band. It's reassuring to know that he's no doubt being well looked-after on the road, but it has to be heartbreaking for them to watch their dad go through this night after night. In public. It was heartbreaking enough to watch. Whether he was joking or not, when Campbell introduced his guitarist son Shannon, he said, "What's your name again?" Ouch.

The essence of the evening can be boiled down to what happened in the early moments of one song, "Dueling Banjos." On guitar, Campbell flubbed several notes before something clicked and he and daughter Ashley on banjo were both off to the races, picking to beat the band as the crowd at the sold-out theater clapped along with glee. (His apples didn't fall very far from the tree at all, as Ashley and Shannon demonstrated on a haunting bluegrass tune called "Birds" that made Aftermath wish we'd seen Allison Krauss at ACL last weekend.)

It was fascinating to watch, evidence that music can light up areas of the brain otherwise dimmed by Alzheimer's, advanced age or any number of other maladies. It happened several other times, too: A nearly perfect jazz solo on "Wichita," ditto on "True Grit," and the melancholy croon of a lesser-known Webb song, "The Moon's a Harsh Mistress," that could have melted stone. Campbell nailed it, then said to his pianist and longtime musical director T.J. Kuenster, "I really like that song... have we been doing that one lately?"


Location Info

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Stafford Centre

10505 Cash Road, Stafford, TX

Category: Music


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11 comments
Jim
Jim

First let me say that Glenn is one of the best that ever was.  I went to the concert at The Inn of the Mountain Gods.  I was disappointed not at the flubs or the music but that I paid an enormous amount of money and the concert was scheduled for 8 PM.  He came on the stage at 8:10 and concluded at 9:20 PM.  That was somewhat of a "Rip Off".  Sorry, but that was what it was.  I admire him, saw him in Branson several years ago and was the reason I wanted to go back.  There he had bagpipes and it was a 2+ hour show.  As a Retired Airline Captain I had him of one of my flights years ago and he was a delight to have aboard.  I wish him well but people should know what they are getting.  For the price it's not worth the money.  I love Glenn Campbell's talent and I wish him well.  Just so you know what you are paying to see is not really him.

Ferdy
Ferdy

I saw him last night in the UK.  Yes, he made some mistakes, not as many as is mentioned in this gig review.  Yes it was upsetting, but Glen wanted to say goodbye to his fans, and they to him.  I have never heard such a roar from any crowd in any gig when he walked on stage, and after his encore.  

Jo
Jo

I had the honor of seeing Glen at Renfro Valley Ky just a few days prior to this concert on Sat. Sept. 17. The show was amazing. Glen made a few jokes about his memory problems just for his own comfort I believe, but everyone was aware of his condition and it didn't really matter because the man was amazing. My husband who is not a huge fan such as I walked away with a new respect for a man who at 75 can play guitar like that! This concert was a highlight for me that I will never forget. By the way, I am 47 and no oddball. I loved Glen when I was a child in the 70's and still do. Also, Ghost On the Canvas is one of the best albums I've ever heard.Glen, you are simply amazing and thank you for the memory for a lifetime. God bless you on this difficult journey. Ps. I traveled 16 hours just to see this show.

DFSunshine
DFSunshine

First off Chris, where you at the same concert that I was??  I wish you had passed on the review and goodies and given them to someone that would truly enjoy them. I resent being called a younger oddball, I paid good money to go and enjoy myself, which I and my husband thoroughly did.  Performing music helps Glen's brain, and so he flubbed a line or two:  only a true fan would know how many flubs he had, my husband didn't catch them and still enjoyed the concert.  About the teleprompter, everyone there knows Glen uses them, and he chose to handle the mishap with humor.  We were laughing along with Glen, not at him.  So what if he had to start over??  He nailed so many songs, lyrical-guitar passages, it was a joy, not sadness.  When Glen walked over to his youngest son, did you know hear "This is my son Shanon?"  Asking of his name was a gag.  Not too far down the road he may ask who his children are, and sadly he won't remember them.  This night was a chance to say good-bye, and I fully expected to feel sad.  I didn't even cry when he sang A Better Place.  It was a time of remembrance, joy, wonder at the talent he still possesses.  Besides, even with Glen's condition, he is still a better musician and singer than most of what is called music out there.  If I had to do it all over again, I would go.  It was an experience of a lifetime, and I enjoyed every minute.

Richard
Richard

I found this website with all of Glen's remaining concert dates and venues. If you want to see his last tour, go to this site and see if he is coming to a place near you. By focusing on the positive, we can all help him and his family http://surfdog.com/glencampbel...

J Caples
J Caples

I had the privilege of seeing Glen in concert two weeks ago in Arkansas. I did not go to the concert expecting perfection...I do not expect such from anyone 75 years of age, must less one with his affliction.

The concert was outstanding...his voice was strong and his playing astounding..it was not without a small misstep or two, but no one cared.....it was a magic evening and I am thankful that Glen and his family have made this decision to share the joy of his music and artistry while he is still able to do so, slight imperfections and all.

I feel your review missed the mark...and though unintended, a bit unkind....Glen Campbell at  90% is still magic and well worth seeing...we all know that in the coming months, perhaps even weeks, a point will be reached when it will be best for him enjoy the remaing days at home with loved ones...but for now, we the fans, are thankful that we can show Glen and his family our love, appreciation, and support through our attendace and applause. 

Gary Packwood
Gary Packwood

Nice Review. Actually a kind and gentle review.

If those older folks wanted to say a final goodbye to Mr. Campbell it would be fairly simple to book a fine restaurant with $300+ tickets and ask Glen and one or two of his family members to visit each table and chat and sign autographs with a photographer present.

The background music would be pure Glen Campbell at his prime.

As each couple prepares to leave the restaurant they would be invited to take their special Glen Campbell chair they used at the table.

The final goodbyes might very well be for the older fans who themselves are getting up there in years.

And those chairs then could be passed on to their family members.

 

Geezy
Geezy

Was sitting with my mother the other day on the coach when their 60 minutes interview I believe came on TV- he is one of her favorite artists and she was highly saddened to hear the announcement being that she doesn't watch TV all that much. I remember hearing his music at home growing up, I think my parents vinyl collection they passed on to me as some Glen sitting in there.  

But I doubt you would have passed on those tickets Gray. One of the highest respects you can pay someone is being there with them through struggles and all, painful as it may be. Music may very well be the one thing helping him alive at the moment- and the fact that he's on a bit of a "farewell/thank you" tour likely leads me(us) to believe that even he knows once the tours done his health will likely fade quickly. 

Hell I bet writing the review was even harder than witnessing him in his current state.

Jessedayton
Jessedayton

harsh reality, but great read...my Dad passed from Alzheimer...it's brutal on everyone....go Glen!

Ferdy
Ferdy

Hi Jo. Like you, I went with my partner and I'm the huge fan, whereas he just loves 2 or 3 of his songs. I'm 41 and it was only after the birth of the internet I stumbled across Wichita Lineman.  I was suddenly under 10 years of age and took me back to wonderful times in the 70's. Since then I've been listening to a whole load more of Glens music that I was unaware of,  and I'm smitten.  I watched him last night in Wales, Uk, and I had to fight back tears whole time.  And as a fan of Mod, Ska and Motown music, I'm no oddball younger fan either. :-)  In fact I was very surprised how may 30 somethings were in attendance. 

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

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