CARY — Sometimes the weather cooperates, sometimes it doesn't. And sometimes it doesn't, but things still work out pretty well. Like Saturday night, as Glen Campbell sang his iconic 1969 hit "Galveston" onstage at Booth Amphitheatre. It was as if they had synced up the lightning to coincide with the song's lines about canons flashing and the narrator being "so afraid of dying."
Campbell's performance wasn't too long, clocking in at less than an hour. But it's remarkable the show happened at all. This is a farewell for Campbell, who announced last year that he has Alzheimer's disease and would do one last album and tour. Given that an upcoming run of dates in Australia and New Zealand were just canceled (out of concerns Campbell wasn't up for that long a flight), you had to wonder about his condition.
Then there was the stormy weather, a drenching thunderstorm that delayed the show for more than an hour because of lightning in the area. Concerns about the weather and finishing before curfew shortened Campbell's set down to 14 songs (from the 19 played at most shows this tour), but the good part was that it was all wheat and no chaff of one of the most enduring catalogs in popular music.
The "official" Hall of Fame version of the late '60s/early '70s is that the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan were all that mattered. But for those of us of a certain age, the Nixon era was more about the Partridge Family, "The Brady Bunch," Herb Alpert - and Campbell, who had an astounding run of signpost hits including "Gentle on My Mind," "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Wichita Lineman" and the aforementioned "Galveston."
Campbell is 76 now, and his voice has acquired some rough edges. But he has learned to work around that, and he still puts his signature songs across in a way that makes you feel them. He showed off a great yodel, too, on the Hank Williams standard "Lovesick Blues." And he demonstrated still-excellent touch and taste on guitar, especially on some very nice interplay with his son on the conclusion of "Wichita Lineman." Campbell's touring band features three of his kids, including keyboardist/banjo player Ashley Campbell, who served as foil on "Dueling Banjos."
Overall, Campbell was in fine voice and excellent spirits, and he seemed appreciative that so much of the crowd braved the weather to see his show. True, there was also a fuzzy moment or two that may or may not have had anything to do with his mental state; he garbled the line about "that stretch down south" in "Wichita Lineman," which came out something like "that stretch right there."
But it was still lovely and moving - his favorite Jimmy Webb-penned hit, Campbell said, and mine, too. And here's the best part about the weather: You couldn't tell how many tears there were out in the crowd.