Brian Wilson at The London Palladium 20/5/16

The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds remains one of the most iconic records of all time and demonstrated just how far the rock’n’roll sounds of the early 60s beat era groups could evolve in such a short space of time. It celebrates it’s 50th anniversary since its release this month so what better way to celebrate my own 50th birthday than going to to see Brian Wilson perform Pet Sounds in full.

The first half of the show sees Wilson, his touring band and special guests run through a whole slew of Beach Boys classics: Heroes and Villains, California Girls, I Get Around, Surfer Girl, Wild Honey and many more. The sound is lush and full. Original Beach Boy, Al Jardine, demonstrates what amazing shape his voice is still in more than half a century after first appearing on Beach Boys records. Former Beach Boys touring guitarist, Blondie Chaplin, also provides some nifty lead guitar work.

The charismatic stage presence of some performers dominates every moment of their live show, regardless of who happens to be sharing the stage with them. For the introspective and softly spoken, Brian Wilson, however, you certainly don’t get that. Although billed as a solo tour it’s very much a band performance and he’s clearly happy to let a number of his colleagues share the limelight. But as he sits at his grand piano you do get a real sense of Wilson’s presence being the creative glue that holds the whole thing together.

After a short break the second set resumes with the band performing the whole of the Pet Sounds album in full. Pet Sounds contains some of the most memorable songs of the slower, more reflective side of the Beach Boys (as opposed to the “girls and cars” side): Wouldn’t It Be Nice, Sloop John B, I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times, Caroline No… The album is rightly celebrated for its lush soundscapes and its hugely ambitious range of instrumentation and musical textures. And I’m struck tonight by just how much love and attention has gone into replicating those sounds of fifty years ago here on stage tonight: the horns, the percussion, the glockenspiel.

For the encore Brian and the band return to the stage for a magnificent Good Vibrations, followed by an energetic and hugely enjoyable run-through of party hits like Help Me Rhonda, Barbara Ann and Surfin’ USA.

For that most American of musicians from that most American of bands, Britain has always had a soft spot Brian Wilson. Indeed, when Pet Sounds first came out it was much better received over here than in the States. And for all his natural awkwardness on stage it’s clear that Wilson does have a special love for performing to London audiences and that mutual love is on display, once again, tonight.

Setlist:

Our Prayer
Heroes and Villains
California Girls
Dance, Dance, Dance
I Get Around
Shut Down
Little Deuce Coupe
Little Honda
In My Room
Surfer Girl
Don’t Worry Baby
Wake the World
Add Some Music to Your Day
Do It Again
One Kind of Love
Wild Honey
Funky Pretty
Sail On, Sailor
Wouldn’t It Be Nice
You Still Believe in Me
That’s Not Me
Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder
I’m Waiting for the Day
Let’s Go Away for Awhile
Sloop John B
God Only Knows
I Know There’s an Answer
Here Today
I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times
Pet Sounds
Caroline, No
Good Vibrations
All Summer Long
Help Me, Rhonda
Barbara Ann
Surfin’ U.S.A.
Fun, Fun, Fun
Love and Mercy

http://www.brianwilson.com/

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