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Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Live: Jimmy Webb & sons

A friend managed to get tickets to see Jimmy Webb at Union Chapel last night, which by the way is one of the most beautiful venues in London (it's an old church in Islington).

The whole thing came as a bit of a surprise to me and I didn't really know much about Jimmy Webb, other than my mate being very keen to see him and convinced I'd like him. Well, Mr Webb's well worth investigating further.

He's a songwriter up there with the best of them and penned such classics as Wichita Lineman, By The Time I Get To Phoenix ((both made famous by Glen Campbell) and MacArthur Park (performed by Richard Harris). Webb's also had his songs performed by Elvis, Sinatra, The Supremes and REM, so he's got friends in high places. According to his Wiki page, By The Time I Get To Phoenix was the third most performed song between 1940 and 1990, which ain't bad.

He's currently on tour with what was meant to be three generations of Webbs - his father, who wasn't performing due to illness, and his four sons, all of whom are in his current band and the current album, a Webb family affair called Cottonwood Farm, which is what he's promoting. I haven't got that album yet but the songs from it that were played last night sounded good, carrying on his song-writing hallmarks of bittersweet country pop ballads. The sons seem to be ploughing their furrow in the father's footsteps, and doing a good job of it too.

Over the weekend though I did download a copy of one of Webb's old albums, which sounded pretty good and worth a purchase. It's the 1971 solo album And So: On and if you click on that link to iTunes it's worth reading the blurb on the album page which sheds a little more light on Webb's attempts to establish himself as a solo star beyond his writing career.

Back to the gig - it was a cosy night with lots of onstage banter between the family and all the classics were played and a few tales spun, though I can't claim to know even all of his classics as well as I probably should do. However, there was no denying that it was pretty special seeing Wichita Lineman performed by its writer. Also good to see Romeo Stodart of The Magic Numbers as part of the touring band, with Angela Gannon and Michele Stodart from the Numbers also making a couple of appearances on backing vocals. Shame though that Romeo, who has one of the sweetest voices around at the moment, didn't really get in on the singing act, instead just playing guitar. But I suppose it was all about the Webb family last night, and seeing as they don't seem to be too short on the talent front themselves, it's only right they dominated this lovely evening.

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