Saturday, 10 September 2016

Live in 2016: Jimmy Webb at The Convent on Friday 9th September 2016

The word Legend is used much too often in Musical circles but tonight at The Convent we had a 'Real' Musical Legend with the appearance of Jimmy Webb.

But firstly...

The Man below is Matthew Roberts - who, with his wife Charlotte, has breathed new life into The Convent in South Woodchester near Stroud. It would take some venue to get me to drive the almost 2 hours from South Wales on a as regular as possible basis but The Convent is the best venue I have attended in my many years of attending gigs. It is a very special place tucked into the gorgeous Cotswold countryside and is building up a fantastic reputation among musicians and audiences alike. And not only is it a fantastic place to play and attend gigs - it also has the added advantages of being able to broadcast the gigs all over the world via absolutely brilliant internet broadcasts. Added to this, it has some exceptional recording facilities. Oh, and throw in a very unique hotel experience too.

And it's all down to Matthew, Charlotte and their exceptional team, who make you feel so welcome.

Tonight, Matthew announces that this show with Jimmy Webb is the first in a series of ICON performances coming to The Convent. I can't wait to see what Icons Matthew is bringing to The Convent in the future. But he's keeping it under one of his many literal hats at the moment.

What can you say about Jimmy Webb? Jimmy is one of the most distinguished songwriters in the world. He's had so many hits that we'd be here all night singing them. 

He's worked with most of the major players in popular music and tonight is an opportunity to hear Jimmy singing his own songs with just a piano accompaniment. In probably exactly the same way as they were originally written over the last 60 years. He also tells some insightful and entertaining stories about the people he has worked with. 

During this review, I will include some videos of the songs that Jimmy performs tonight. Some by Jimmy, some by other artists with Jimmy, some by the artists who have had the original hits with the included songs.

Jimmy opens the show with one of his biggest hits - The Highwayman - a huge hit for the Country supergroup of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson aka from then on as The Highwaymen.

I will not spoil the show for anyone who has yet to see it by unveiling the stories that Jimmy tells throughout the evening but I will mention some of the people he discusses. Such as Waylon Jennings with this song. Here it is performed by Jimmy and the wonderful songwriter Paddy McAloon from the band Prefab Sprout.

The Highwaymen performing The Highwayman

There is always something special about seeing a performer like Jimmy - a songwriter who has given other artists some of the biggest songs of their career. There is a beautiful vulnerability to these songwriters when performing their own songs. And you get variations in terms of the songs' presentations and performances. Shedding new light on some of the most recognised songs in the history of recorded music.

Jimmy will always be known for his musical relationship with Glen Campbell. This began in 1967 with the song By The Time I Get To Pheonix, of more later. But second song tonight is another of the huge songs from Glen Campbell, Gavlveston.

Here is Glen's original promo from 1968.

Another fruitful relationship for Jimmy was with the vocal group 5th Dimension. Their biggest hit comes up next - introduced by Jimmy as 'Are you old enough to remember the Nimble Advert?'

As with all of the songs tonight, Jimmy regales us with some excellent stories related to either the song or the artist.

Jimmy is such an unassuming and genuine guy. This comes across in his performance tonight. I had to almost pinch myself tonight just to remind myself that this guy on the stage has written ALL of these fantastic songs we were privileged to be listening to tonight.

And The Convent suits this performance beautifully with the glorious surroundings, superb sound quality and The Convent Grand piano.

The next song we are treated to was a hit for the great singer Art Garfunkel, who knows a thing or two about Iconic songwriters. It's called All We Know.

Is Jimmy Webb still relevant you may ask. Well, a quick answer is YES. Take the recent Kanye West song with Rhianna called Famous. This song heavily samples one of Jimmys's best songs - which has been a hit for many artists including the gorgeous version by Nina Simone.

Go and do what you wanna do is Jimmy's next song tonight.

Here is a link to the Kanye West song Famous, if you're interested in hearing it.

I would have traveled the two hours today - just to hear Jimmy Webb perform the next song. It it one of my favorite songs of all time. It was a massive hit for Glen Campbell. It's Wichita Lineman. And Jimmy's version is SO different from Glen's but just as compelling. 

And here is tonight's performance. Just magical. It got the biggest standing ovation of the night.

I could do a whole Blog piece about Witchita Lineman so I just can't resist slipping in Glen's wonderful version. Jimmy talked a little of Glen's current state tonight. He saw him recently and stated that the place he know resides is just beautiful. I'm Glad :'(

Jimmy has had hits across all genres of music. This one he described as a puppy rescued by Judy Collins. I'll leave it at that. It's another of my all time favourite songs - and it's a real jewel :)

Here we are again, lucky enough to be able to see the night's performance thanks to Matthew and his team at The Convent.

The Moon's A Harsh Mistress.

Here is Judy's version,

Up next is a song from Jimmy's 2005 album - Twilight Of The Renegades - a lovely version of How Quickly.

What can you say about the next song tonight? One of the most enigmatic songs of all time. And it became a hit several times over. For differing artists from different genres. I remember hearing it for the first time and being completely blown away by it's baroque majesty and varying sections, come to think of it, it is almost Prog - I was in my very early teens. It was sung by the actor Richard Harris. It was MacArthur Park.

And here's Donna Summer's supreme 18 minute version. Get Dancing!!!!!!!

Obviously, Jimmy's version is much intense and personal tonight and he bangs away at those chords with a focused abandon. And it brought the house, or in this case The Convent, down. It also completed tonight's set.

But we weren't letting Jimmy escape without an encore. An Jimmy duly obliged with his first big hit as a songwriter - By The Time I Get To Phoenix, which proved a huge hit for Glen Campbell at the start of his solo career.
Here's a performance by Jimmy way back in 1971 on the superb Old Grey Whistle Test.

So, a supreme gig by a true Legend of music. The first of The Convent's Iconic Artist performances and what a way to start.

The artists who play The Convent always do a soundcheck. Tonight, Jimmy performed a song at the soundcheck which wasn't included in his show. But it's such a gorgeous version, I thought I'd include it for you.

If These Old Walls Could Speak.

With The Convent's superb recording facility, you can watch this whole show online for a small price at the link below. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Twitter - @realjimmywebb

All Photos of Jimmy Webb courtesy of Eric Hobson Photography - I thank you Sir.

1 comment:

  1. WOW, what an incredible night. One you'll surely remember the rest of your life.

    Very nice chronicle of the career of a musical legend. Not bad for a preacher's kid from Oklahoma, who wasn't allowed to listen to pop music growing up.

    Although most of his songs have been made famous by others, there is something special about Jimmy's homely & heartfelt vocals & stripped down arrangements. Seems like a genuinely nice gentleman too...

    I'm glad to see you included "If These Walls" & "Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" in your profile. Two of his very best that don't get the attention they deserve. And Jimmy's own versions are simply stunning.

    Although I try not to "worship" my heroes, I must admit I'm a little green with envy Nick, as I'm sure TJ is. Quite a special memory to keep...