NEW YORK "Welcome to our final rehearsal," Jimmy Webb said on Saturday as he and Glen Campbell greeted a mature, upscale crowd in Feinstein's at the Regency Hotel for their last show.
Pop composer Webb and singer/guitarist Campbell were in New York for a rare, five-night stint, perhaps to promote Campbell's 1999 album 197488 Reunited With Jimmy Webb (Raven). Certainly, it made artistic sense to reprise a pairing that led to a string of successive hit singles penned by Webb for Campbell in the '60s, including "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Wichita Lineman" and "Galveston."
From the moment they took the stage, it was dubious whether the two would specialize in melodies or merriment. They played off each other, comically and musically, throughout the 90-minute show. But when they launched into a stripped-down version of "Galveston" with Campbell's distinctive twang on top and Webb's subtle piano riffs underneath, there wasn't a goosebump-free arm in the house.
"Here's one of the most perfect songs about love," Campbell said of the next tune, "Lightning in a Bottle" (dedicated to Will Lee, bassist from the "Late Show With David Letterman," and his new bride, who were in the audience).
Webb reflected on his song, "These Old Walls." "I wrote that for Waylon [Jennings], and it was inspired by him," he said.
Campbell and Webb covered "Highwayman" (which won a Grammy in 1986 for Johnny Cash, Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, when they teamed up as the Highwaymen) and "Where's the Playground Susie." The hits, as they say, just kept on coming all with commentary from Campbell: "Gentle on My Mind" ("One of my favorite songs"), "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" (RealAudio excerpt) ("I cried when I heard this for the first time"), "Wichita Lineman" (RealAudio excerpt) and "MacArthur Park" ("Where did that come from?").
The finale, "Rhinestone Cowboy" (RealAudio excerpt), turned into an audience-participation sing-along and the pair were given a standing ovation.
While Webb seemed to flee the scene immediately after the show, Campbell, well-known for his generosity toward fans, signed autographs and posed for pictures.