Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Jimmy Webb

8th May 2018

Mitchell Theatre, Glasgow

As I think I may have burbled on about before, I discovered Glen Campbell in the mid 1970s when my folks decided to belatedly expand their music collection.  They had been regular if modest purchasers of 45s in the early/mid 1960s but, an LP copy of the original soundtrack to South Pacific aside, they appeared to me to have pretty much given up on buying records sometime during 1968.

But around 1975 or so, a whole wodge of those chunky eight-track cartridges arrived in the house; mostly dull MOR artistes like Gene Pitney and Neil Sedaka.  But over the next few months I learned to love one of the albums: Glen Campbell’s Twenty Golden Greats.  I can recall perusing the credits on the rear of the cartridge box one time, and noting that pretty much all those songs on the collection I really enjoyed (Galveston, Wichita Lineman, Where's The Playground, Susie?) and the like, had been written by some chap called Webb. 

This was of course, Jimmy Webb, whom I was later startled to discover had previously written such disparate successes as Richard Harris’ proto-prog epic hit MacArthur Park, and that piece of disposable bubblegum Up, Up and Away (in my Beautiful Balloon).  Webb has in fact, over a 50 odd year career, written more hits and garnered to his mantelpiece more awards than one could shake a pointed stick at. 

This was billed as “An Evening with Jimmy Webb”, with perhaps two thirds of the concert time given over to Webb’s entertaining and humorous ramblings.  He occasionally touched upon aspects of his personal life; the time his pastor father paid a visit with a revolver to the local radio station, having learned they planned to ban one of Webb’s songs.  But the bulk of his reminiscences pertained to the writing and recording of his songs, including delightful anecdotes relating his dealings the likes of Waylon Jennings, Art Garfunkel, as well as the aforementioned Campbell and Harris.

With a few minutes of the opening tune Highwayman, it became apparent why Webb is better known as a Songwriter rather than a Singer/Songwriter.  For his singing voice, although by no means a train-smash, is probably best described as “adequate”, with a range most kindly rated as “limited”.  He did at least self-deprecatingly acknowledge this fact by asking us all (or least the ladies in the room) to help him out with the higher notes of one song.

The set closer was a ten-minute rendition of MacArthur Park which, shorn of all those orchestral histrionics, did drag just a tad.  And such had been the extent of his intimate ramblings during the evening he had to sheepishly amble back onto stage to apologise that there was no time for an encore.  

But time for a meet and greet (and selling) session at the Merch Table, apparently.

Set list

Up, Up and Away
All I Know
How Quickly We Forget
Wichita Lineman
MacArthur Park

Jimmy Webb - Glasgow 2018

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