WARREN -- Before Glen Campbell took the stage Wednesday night, May 9, for the first of his two shows at Andiamo Celebrity Showroom, his drummer son Cal told the crowd that the band had seen some great things during his father's farewell tour.
And some sad things.
Both were on display during Campbell's hit-filled 70-minute show, as the music icon continued his brave and public battle with Alzheimer's disease, struggling through an uneven performance that showed marked deterioration from his late January stop at the Ann Arbor Folk Festival. Campbell is hardly done yet, but the slide is increasingly evident.
At this juncture, however, nobody's expecting to see Campbell the virtuoso; the farewell tour is a chance to celebrate his long and genuinely illustrious career, both as a solo artist and a hall-of-fame caliber session guitarist -- and occasionally an actor. At Andiamo Campbell played for a room that was decidedly on his side and almost willing him to get through the night -- though some particularly interfering, if well-meaning, fans at a front center table did their best to distract him from the task at hand, even after being warned to stop by house security.
And, of course, Campbell is surrounded by a supportive and unflappable band that includes three of his children, with daughter Ashley gently correcting her father's course when he'd stray or lose his orientation.
Unfortunately, that happened quite a bit during Wednesday's show. There were some strong moments, including the opening "Gentle on My Mind" and a movingly delivered second verse of "Wichita Lineman," and through the band's efforts most of the 19 songs held their melodic integrity. But those were exceptions amidst the shaky guitar solos, missed lyrics and fits of pique; at one point during "She Thinks I Still Care" Campbell was so bothered by the volume of Siggy Sjursen's bass that he made him stop playing and effectively banished him from the stage, to the sonic detriment of the rest of the set.
There will come a time when Campbell's family and handlers will decide that his disease has progressed to a point where it's detrimental to keep him on the road. He's not unaware of that; he noted a couple of times on Wednesday that, "I'm happy to be here -- of course, I'm happy to be anywhere." And for that night, foibles and all, the Andiamo crowd was happy to have him.
Campbell and Instant People perform again at 8 p.m. Friday, May 11, at Andiamo Celebrity Showroom, 7096 E. Fourteen Mile Road, Warren. Tickets are $25-$69. Call 586-268-3200 or visit www.andiamoshowroom.com.
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