REVIEW: Jimmy Webb, Memorial Hall, Sheffield

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Jimmy Webb is one of the greatest songwriters of the last half century. He’s also a hell of a talker.

In this rare and remarkable concert showcase, the 64-year-old was on stage for a shade under two hours - and performed just nine songs.

The classics featured included Highwayman, Galveston, All I Know, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress and a spine-tingling version of the immortal Wichita Lineman.

In between the music came a torrent of memories, anecdotes and digressions featuring a virtual who’s who of the late 20th century music industry.

But don’t get the idea this was the sort of carefully structured, quasi-autobiographical show which we’ve seen from the likes of Roger McGuinn or Ray Davies.

I heard a recording of a Webb show in an LA nightclub last year - and the stories then were almost completely different.

From a memorable first meeting with Joe Cocker to a scary appointment with a certain Mr Sinatra, from boozy drinking sessions with Harry Nilsson to Paul Simon break-up commiserations with Art Garfunkel, Jimmy’s met them all.

He’s also aware that the baton is being passed, that he is the last of a dying breed in a world where Eminem receives ten Grammy nominations - including best song.

A recent touch of the lurgy meant the high notes were a struggle - and may have curtailed his singing to some extent - but this was a memorable evening.

Finishing with just one of his signature songs Didn’t We - performed the way Frank used to do it - and encoring with Time Flies, a song written for a star of the old school, Rosemary Clooney, this was magical stuff.

Mike Russell.