Glen Campbell & the Austin Symphony

Live shot

Phases & Stages
Photo By Gary Miller

Glen Campbell & the Austin Symphony

Riverbend Centre, Feb. 19

Glen Campbell loves to talk like Donald Duck. He quacked the audience up at least four different times, and you had to credit his sense of humor. Humor is something Campbell can use because his DWI a couple of years ago further tarnished the squeaky-clean image he'd cultivated early in his career. With the astonishing songwriting talent of Jimmy Webb behind him, Campbell was a composer's dream in the Sixties, with all-American good looks and a well-developed tenor. Campbell was no slouch on guitar (that's him on the Monkees' "I'm a Believer"), television (Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour), and/or the big screen (True Grit). By the end of the Seventies, he'd lost some of his luster brawling with friends (Mac Davis) and lovers (Tanya Tucker), and musical trends had left him behind. Yet the chain of hits he'd forged was of solid, iron-clad songs that hold up today – mostly. Campbell opened with Webb's gorgeous "Wichita Lineman" and followed with "Galveston," "Gentle on My Mind," and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," arguably his four best-known hits. They were beautifully written and performed, songs so strong that everything after slid into the forgettable range. Sure, "Highwayman" was impressive, as was "Classical Gas," which truly spotlighted the Austin Symphony. Still, bringing out daughter Debbie for a solo ("You Don't Have to Say You Love Me") and an extended medley ("United We Stand," "Little Green Apples," "Jackson") altered the dynamic that never picked up again. The awkwardly charming Beach Boys tribute didn't help. And he's a Campbell, solidly Scot, ending the show with "Amazing Grace" and playing bagpipes in the Campbell tartan. Corny? Maybe, but Glen Campbell doesn't need to prove himself any longer. He can talk duck all night and we'll love him anyway.

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