Brian Wilson, the musical genius, who composed, arranged and produced one of the best albums of all time, Pet Sounds, takes a seat at his piano, fifty years after the album’s release, as all upstanding applaud his entrance. Eleven musicians are assembled around him to recreate the inimitable Beach Boys sound, including one of the The Beach Boy’s original members and Wilson’s college friend, Al Jardine.
As Wilson introduces opener Our Prayer, conducted by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Paul Von Martens, the throng is transfixed by angelic harmonies from the twelve strong musicians. The first set features a multitude of greatest hits from The Beach Boys, and Wilson’s solo material, whilst the second set is Pet Sounds played in its entirety.
Wilson is a formidable figure, and while the numerous talented musicians on stage are playing their hearts and guts out, all eyes are on Wilson. All songs are performed with aplomb, everything from California Girls, to Little Deuce Coupe, vocals courtesy of Al Jardine, closely followed by his son Matt Jardine providing dulcet tones for one of many highlights Don’t Worry Baby. Seminal guitarist Blondie Chaplin who has performed with The Beach Boys and Rolling Stones, struts his stuff and lends vocal duties, and guitar antics to Wild Honey, providing the ‘rock’ element to the show.
As the Pet Sounds set kicked in, and the first bars of Wouldn’t It Be Nice fill the auditorium, a musical masterpiece is unleashed onto the throng. Seeing Wilson perform God Only Knows, one of the best love songs of all time, pulled at the heart strings, with the assistance of Matt Jardine on backing vocals.
When the musicians took their spots on stage for the encore, and played the first few bars of Good Vibrations the whole atmosphere changed. All members of the audience, filled with pent up dancing frustration, got to their feet and sang and danced with abandon, to the tunes of their childhood, Help Me, Rhonda, and Surfin’ USA amongst many numerous hits recreating the characteristic Beach Boy’s Surfer Sound.
As Wilson closes with Love and Mercy, the poignancy and truth of the song cuts deeply and resonates with all who know what Wilson has had to endure. But despite his hardships, Brian Wilson and his high calibre musicians, showcased a stellar set of 38 pop songs delivered with the complexity of a symphony, and the reason the word genius is only reserved for a select few.