Brian Wilson. Pet Sounds. The Sage. 29.5.16.


One of my best, and only, skills is my ability to be self-aware.  It’s through this that I remind myself, daily, just how luck I am, and how spoilt I can be.

There’s no better example of being spoilt than remembering how I felt after Brian’s Pet Sounds gig.

As always with Brian the gig is very good.  However, very good can sometimes be the enemy of great.

Though pushing 75, there are standards that you can expect from a Brian gig;

  • He pushes himself physically (playing for almost 2 hours and 20 minutes (excluding the break))
  • He adds strange song choices to his set (Monster Mash is played, (the first chorus of) Proud Mary, Row row row your boat (twice…))
  • A raft of ‘Brianisms’ (defining the Bee Gees as ‘hard rock’, forgetting Blondie Chaplin’s name (“let me introduce my friend jeffery, jonny…errr…”)
  • Excellent renditions of rarely played tracks (‘Little honda’,  ‘Girl don’t tell me’ and the Blondie led, super funk, versions of ‘Funky Trader’ and ‘Sail on Sailor’).

You also expect Brian’s band to be sublime (they’d have to be to replicate his musical arrangements, vocal harmonies and multi-instrumentalism’s).  Matthew Jardine in particular is stand out- his duty clearly being to replicate most falsetto deliveries (his singing on ‘Don’t worry baby’ silences the crowd).

It’s also great to see Al and Blondie (having never seen them before).  Al lives up to his moniker as ‘nice guy’ by filling in any silences and prompting Brian when required; Blondie demonstrates through his guitar work what a musical asset he must have been during his stint in the Beach Boys.

However it’s hard not miss that extra 10%; the energy, fun and heart that came from Brian’s original band.  I  miss Jeffrey, Scott, Darian and Taylor.  Their departure has left a band who are extremely capable but perhaps lack some of the sparkle of the originals.

Brian’s voice seems a little cracked, but the band (particularly the Jardine’s) cover this well and force the mistakes away from public view.

Brian keeps insisting that each tour is his last, but he comes back.  This time he came back almost as good as the last time. The key word being almost.

I’ve seen Brian 18 times, and I’d happily see him 18 more.  If this was the last time then thank you Brian.  Your music broke, then mended, my heart.

You’re as important to me as anything I’ve ever had in my life.

You sound tracked my life.

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