This was my first experience with the Torrance Cultural Arts Foundation's Armstrong Theatre and I was impressed. The comfortable seating accommodates audiences up to 400 or so and is cozy and close to the stage. The lighting is smart and sound quite crisp. Parking is simple and free. And there was no waiting in line to get out of the parking lot. Overall, this venue makes an enjoyable night out, uncomplicated and friction free.
Jimmy Webb is billed as a singer/songwriter, but as a live entertainer, it's his storytelling, likeableness, and warm sense of humor that shine. Yes, the songs are great -- really wonderful; I'm a huge fan of "By the time I get to Phoenix" and "Wichita Lineman." And I warmly enjoyed the total experience of hearing those songs and others as played by the writer in the storied context of their creation. And for the most part, Jimmy carries the tune, but even he admits, "it makes you really appreciate great singers like Glen Campbell." Frankly, there were a few notes that his voice struggled with (especially at song endings), so be prepared to wince a time or two. But, even so, really, the total experience is a positive. Even a few technical glitches with the audio/visuals flowed sweetly into the comprehensively warm intimate feeling Webb creates and maintains throughout the night. It's just one man, a piano, and a video screen, but he carries the night, if not the tune.
Regarding the video, more specifically, images from gentle nature shots, to home-movie-type footage, to photos of Campbell and other greats from the past are projected on a large screen behind Webb and his piano. This video background adds to and rounds out Webb's act. The music is comprised solely of Webb's voice and his piano, but two or three songs integrate past recordings of Campbell's voice and guitar.
-- Books by Author/Illustrator Ross Anthony --