Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jimmy Webb

American music legend to play exclusive gig in city

HE’S the legendary US singer-songwriter whose hits have been immortalised by everyone from Frank Sinatra and The Supremes to Glen Campbell and REM.
But while he may have written the most-played song of the last millennium with Wichita Lineman and has a mantelpiece groaning with Grammys, Jimmy Webb is to play an intimate gig in a Roath backstreet to kick off his upcoming UK tour.
“That’s down to my boys Christiaan, Justin and James, they love Cardiff,” said the 63-year-old Oklahoma star who’s been dubbed ‘a musical genius’ by the likes of Sinatra.
“They’re in a band called The Webb Brothers and when they were starting out they did some shows there and the kids made them so welcome they were desperate to come back.
“But this time they brought the old man too,” laughed Webb, who, with his three sons, will no doubt thrill fans at the 350-capacity The Gate on Sunday by running through a back catalogue stuffed with such classics as By The Time I Get To Phoenix, Up, Up And Away and MacArthur Park.
And while it may only be his second time over the Severn Bridge, Webb said he’s always had a long spiritual relationship with Wales, having met up with Pontypridd’s Tom Jones a number of times during the ’60s to discuss working together.
“I remember we had a couple of meetings about us doing something, but unfortunately it never really came to anything,” said Webb, adding that Sir Tom’s fans in possession of some of the Voice Of The Valleys’ earlier vinyl could still hear their idol putting his stamp on the likes of By The Time I Get To Phoenix.
“Tom does a slightly different type of number to what I write so I guess we just went in different directions.
“He had a more up-tempo approach to his career than I did – I was more a ballad man.”
And what about the prospect of playing such a low-key show?
“I love it, I really enjoy getting up close and personal and rubbing shoulders with the crowds,” enthused Webb.
“I like to tell stories about how the songs came about, funny little looks behind the curtain that explain the backgrounds behind them.
“So it really helps with that kind of gig if you can see people’s faces,” he added.
“I can’t speak for the boys though, I’m sure they’d rather be playing somewhere the size of Madison Square Garden.
“But you know how kids are,” laughed Webb.

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