Glen Campbell & Diane Solomon
Congress Theatre, Eastbourne, May 21, 1981
With the ‘on-off’ relationship between Glen Campbell and Tanya Tucker, American singer Diane Solomon, who is now based in Britain, was added to the latest Glen Campbell British tour at the eleventh hour. Miss Solomon’s excursion into country music never had a lot of credulity for me. Her efforts have held the worst elements of an artist trying over hard to slot into a certain style, and consequently there has been a forced, unnatural tone to her singing. On this show she fitted much more smoothly into the groove.
She knew what the well-groomed and manicured audience wanted, and she delivered the goods, well aided by her band, Paradox. The performance was a relaxed affair with friendly between-song-chatter. When she didn’t conquer with her music, she charmed with her presence.
Some interesting songs she performed included an up-tempo medley of country songs, surprisingly linking Crystal Gayle’s Why Have You Left The One You Left Me For and Steve Goodman’s City Of New Orleans. The Barbara Mandrell hit, That’s What Friends Are For was a fine evocation of the ethics of country music—heartbreaking lyrics about a woman left behind.
Overall, Diane Solomon’s set was a refreshing blend of good, accessible music, with strong commercial potential. Her back-up band lent able support, both instrumentally and vocally, with particularly distinguished keyboard work.
It came at quite a surprise. Not the air of fervent devotion with which the Eastbourne audience greeted Glen Campbell—he had been filed long enough under ‘living legend’to be absorbed into the passionate embrace of his audience the moment her walks on stage—but the hard edge that his new band has given him, powering through with simplicity and driving economy.
He opened with Rhinestone Cowboy, and the first fifteen minutes of his act was used to get rid of all the hits—Wichita Lineman, Galveston, Gentle On My Mind all followed in quick succession. It seemed that once he had got them out of the way he was ready to present the new Glen Campbell act, and it was a musical treat that encompassed country, blues, swing, bluegrass, rock and easy-listening.
The only familiar face in the band was Carl Jackson, who did an amazing duet on banjo and fiddle with the keyboard player, who turned out to be an ace harmonica man. They literally tore the Orange Blossom Special off the tracks, and the band followed as close as a hound on the trail, narry missing a beat.
Glen returned to the stage and we were treated to some more fine music, with a dynamic version of Bob Wills’ Milk Cow Blues, which in one tune took the band through blues, jazz, swing and country. With the harmonica man stealing the honours from Campbell, as he did yet again on a pure country version of the Hank Williams’ classic I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.
An unrehearsed version of A Daisy A Day showed that Glen is no longer the dinner-suit performer he seemed to be a few years ago, and he brought the act round to a contemporary slant with a stunning version of Jimmy Webb’s The Highwayman. The bagpipes were brought on for Amazing Grace, then Diane was recalled to replace the missing Tanya on a couple of duets, before Glen closed with Mull Of Kintyre with the bagpipes once again to the fore and the audience clamouring for an encore, which could just could not follow such a climatic ending.