Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jimmy Webb and the Webb Brothers - Queens Hall, Edinburgh, Friday 6 November

To the Queens Hall to see the composer of By The Time I Get To Phoenix, Wichita Lineman, Galveston and Macarthur Park (not to mention Up Up and Away). Support was from Martin Carr, best described as "Mostly Harmless". Webb himself sat at his piano in front of a seven-piece band, four of whom were his sons. For a recovered alcoholic who was a worldwide success when I was barely a teenager, he looks pretty good, and sounds better. In a set just short of two hours long, he did almost all the hits I listed: well OK, not Up Up and Away (though he did The Worst That Could Happen, another of the songs he wrote for the Fifth Dimension) and more surprisingly not Didn't We. (I'd forgotten he wrote that - for Richard Harris - until I was drafting this review.) He also did plenty of (to me though evidently not to much of the audience) less well-known songs: P.F. Sloan, Highwayman, All I Know , Christian No (not a song about religion, but one written for his son Christian), and If These Old Walls Could Speak (one of the best songs of the night). He had a polite but firm way of dealing with attention-seeking barrackers (there's always one.....). His introductions and anecdotes were delightful, and there was a sense of wonder at hearing him sing the classic songs, even if he's no Glen Campbell (though he sings better than Richard Harris). Incidentally, Glen's son Cal is the drummer with Webb's band. Their new album "Cottonwood Farm" was represented by Hollow Victory and Bad Things Happen to Good People (showing incidentally that his sons' songwriting is pretty good too). Then all too soon he was signing off with MacArthur Park, returning to do an encore of Adios (surely the best farewell song since Robert Burns). It was both a thrill and a privilege to see one of the great songwriters of our time, especially when he turned out to be such a good performer.

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