We’re having a bit of a train timetable crisis in Scotland at the moment with services running on sparse timetables. Around a week before this gig I looked at the train timetable to see when the last train from Waverley station back to Queen Street would be. The last service last night was at 10.15pm – too early for it to be practical for me to get, let alone even go to the gig at all, in all honesty. A stay overnight was out of the question. Too short notice which meant it would be too pricey and I really shouldn’t have to be spending the night in Edinburgh – not coming from Glasgow! (I’d travel a similar distance from Luton to see shows and gigs in London and NEVER stayed in London.)
I thought a coach too and back was going to incur a similar cost as the coach to Edinburgh airport, but of course the companies have to stick on a 60% markup on fares to take you to/from an airport – happens the world over. I was pleasantly surprised that a coach to Edinburgh was only £3.60 each way so I decided the coach would do it. There were coaches leaving every 30 minutes from around 9.30pm so I knew I wouldn’t get stranded.
I caught the coach at 4.15pm and arrived at Princes Street at around 5.30pm. It was a smooth journey. There was one rather worrying element early on. There was a stop just outside greater Glasgow where the M8 and M73 converge near Bargeddie and the driver seemed not to be able to take the coach out of the lower curb resting position – as if the hydraulics to lift the suspension back up had jammed. My heart began to sink. Although I had allowed for some time in case of jams or suchlike, I didn’t take into account time for a total coach breakdown! After a few minutes the hydraulics on the coach seemed to work again and we were off. Apart from that scare, the journey went without a hitch.
I had time to meander to the venue. I had 90 minutes to get there. I arrived there just after 6pm and just had a wander about the area. I had sod-all money and had hardly anything to eat, just enough to keep me going. I was quite thirsty but didn’t want to spend out on a drink so I bought myself an apple which was crisp and juicy enough to act as both thirst-quencher and stomach-filler. It had been in the chiller and was quite cold so it was very refreshing. I sat in a nearby park, enjoying the sun and watching the goings on around the park whilst eating the apple.
Doors opened to the venue at 7pm and I joined a small queue that was forming a few minutes before the hour. We were promptly let in. I spent a penny in the gender neutral(!) loos (which does feel a bit strange when you’re walking into the space and men are there washing their hands), then took my seat.
I was glad to have arrived as promptly as I had done as Webb’s support act, Ashley Campbell (Glen Campbell’s daughter, no less) started her support set right on 7.30pm. I really enjoyed her set a lot. I will freely admit my prejudice to country music but I was so moved by her performance. She has a very sweet voice and she’s a very natural and modest performer. Her accompaniment was a man named Thor Jensen who has his own album out. He had great harmonies with Ashley and they performed really well together. The lyrics to the songs she performed were just lovely and I cried several times, esp. at the end when she performed a song called Remembering about her dad and about how the Altheimers ravaged his ability to remember things. It was really poignant and beautiful. In the footage below, Ashley and Thor perform Tom Waits’ Long Way Home. I think I can say I had an epiphany and am now a fan of Ashley Campbell after last night.
Jimmy Webb arrived on the stage at 8.30pm to a very warm round of applause. It was a crowd of country music fans, as well as Jimmy Webb fans. A thoroughly appreciative crowd and Webb certainly did not disappoint, leading straight off with a rendition of Galveston.
It was quite a 50/50 split between music performance and conversation piece. Webb is quite the story-teller and has many tales to tell. He talked about his upbringing (some of which I captured on film) in Oklahoma (and like a few other people I know who grew up or lived in Oklahoma) which he compounded the general consensus about Oklahoma is the roads out of there! Lol. He talked about his early success, Grammy award nominations and wins, working with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and, of course, Glen Campbell. He had quite a few political views too, which he didn’t shy away from discussing. He talked about how Wichita Lineman came about, a spontaneous meeting with Louis Armstrong, Kenye West knicking a song of his to put down Taylor Swift (Jimmy was NOT happy about that!). He cracked a lot of jokes. There was quite a lot of humour and in between a fantastic repertoire of songs.
It’s quite the catalogue and he only performed a small selection of them. He’s an accomplished pianist. Is he a great singer? Well, no – by his own admission. He is a songwriter and he’s 75 (looking good for it though, it has to be said). It was a thoroughly entertaining evening.
About two thirds of the way through the show, during a quiet lull in the show, someone called out ‘P.F. Sloan, Jimmy!’ Webb’s retort, ‘Hang on a minute. I’m thinking.’ Then another person calls out. ‘Okay. I heard you the first time. Give me a minute. Let me figure something out here.’ After a few minutes talking about how the song came about, he then went into it as requested. Whoever that person was that called out the request, kudos to you because it became the highlight of the show for me.
I had to check the time now and then. As it drew closer to 10.30 I started to become mindful of how much time I’d need to get back to the Royal Mile and to the coach station for home. I had booked the 11.30pm coach back. Just after 10.40pm I decided to make my move. Webb just started with MacArthur Park and as reluctant as I was to leave before the end of the show, I knew I had to leave now. I spent another penny and off I went.
I had a mile long walk to go, alone, in a quieter area of Edinburgh and I was BRICKING IT! I contemplated grabbing a bus to get me back to Princes Street but I thought by the time I wanted for one to come by, etc, etc, I was best off just to keep pushing on. I get to Waverley station and have to go down that bloody staircase. Down, down, down. Then I cut through Waverley station itself and then get to the escalators taking you out the the other side to see that the ones higher up the staircase aren’t working. Oh, great! It’s 11.23 by the time I get to Princes Street and I still have about a quarter of a mile to go to get to the bus station. When I finally get to the bus station, my coach is right at the end of the bays! I can barely walk anymore. I get to the coaches’ step at 11.27! I’m then grappling with my phone to find my ticket to show to the driver. I take a seat at 11.29 – feeling as if I’ve just run a marathon – but I made it! Thirsty as hell and no drink at all but I made the coach and I was heading home. I had money left for a taxi back home from Buchanan bus station. It was all good.
It was a really good concert.