Tag Archives: London Palladium

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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Jerry Lee Lewis at The London Palladium 6/9/15

When his first British tour, and seemingly his entire career, ended in scandal and chaos over revelations about his 13- year-old bride back in 1958, few would have predicted that not only would Jerry Lee Lewis be one of the last 50s American rock n roll stars alive and still performing, but that he’d be marking his 80th birthday with a sell-out performance at the London Palladium. But, against the odds, it is Jerry Lee Lewis that can claim to be last man standing.

Following a cheesy introduction from former radio DJ, Mike Read, and a warm standing ovation from the Palladium audience, Lewis slowly makes his way to the centre-stage grand piano looking every one of his 80 years. But as soon as he starts to play that piano his fingers are as nimble and his playing as electrifying as when he made his US TV debut almost sixty years ago, a clip of which we are shown in a short film before Lewis comes on.

He’s not going to jump up and down and play the piano with his feet tonight, but he still plays as if his life depends it on it. As well as rock n rollers like Chuck Berry’s Sweet Little Sixteen and, of course, Whole Lotta Skakin’ Goin’ on and Great Balls of Fire, we get some of the beautifully expressive slower numbers from his country phase, like She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye and Over the Rainbow.

One of the temptations for big name performers of advancing years is to fill the stage with so many extra musicians and backing vocalists that the stage can end up looking as crowded as the auditorium. Lewis avoids this with the same simple the lead guitar/rhythm guitar/bass/drums set-up backing him that he’s had for most of his career. And it’s testimony to his presence as a vocalist/ pianist and of the superb musicianship of his backing band that this is precisely all that’s needed.

It’s a triumph of a performance. And while it was never going to be possible to see most of his contemporaries, I can at least say I got to see Jerry Lee Lewis live in London. One of the last of the original rock’n’roll greats.

Setlist:
Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee
Down the Line
She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye
Before the Night Is Over
No Headstone on My Grave
See See Rider
Sweet Little Sixteen
You Win Again
Why You Been Gone So Long
Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On
Over the Rainbow
Mexicali Rose
Great Balls of Fire

http://jerryleelewis.com/

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