Brian Wilson concert review
Tue, 24 May 2016, 5 years ago
O2 Apollo in Manchester, UK
The Brian Wilson Pet Sounds Tour was everything I hoped it to be and more. Initially consisting of an 11 piece band, the show was split into two halves. The first an hour long set of Beach Boys classics, the second a full performance of Pet Sounds.
The energy on stage was amazing! Brian was clearly feeling his years as he remained seated throughout the full show, but that doesn't mean he didn't input some wonderful heart felt energy because he had an enigmatic stage presence, talking to and including the audience, which ultimately ended in an audience sing along to Row Row Row Your Boat. We were treated to classics from the Hot Rod era like Little Deuce Coupe and Honda, along with the surfing years of California Girls and I Get Around.
I was almost brought to tears at Don't Worry Baby as Al Jardine (founding member of The Beach Boys who joined Brian Wilson) introduced his son, Matt Jardine to do the lead vocals. It was beautiful to see the music was kept in the family, and his vocals sounded like they were taken from the recordings themselves. You could see how proud father and son were to be performing with each other.
About three quarters through the first half, Blondie Chaplin just appeared on stage, having formed in thin air, completing a 12 man line-up. Having joined the Beach Boys in the early 70's, Blondie performed many of their more rock style hits, a high light of which was the much anticipated Sail On Sailor. Blondie definitely encompassed the most energy, owning the stage with what can only be described as "mad guitar skills". At the end of the first half, Brian left the stage much before everyone else, with crew at the side waiting to help him off stage. If anything, that is testament to how amazing the show is that he is putting on. This frail man receiving help off the stage put on one of the most magnificent shows I've witnessed.
The second half was what the crowd was there for, the final full live performance of Pet Sounds. The highlights of which came from Wouldn't It Be Nice, You Still Believe In Me, Sloop John B (which the entire audience sang to) and God Only Knows, sung mostly by Brian. His vocals have obviously diminished over the years, but he forced out a beautiful rendition of God Only Knows, which was enhanced by the soft vocals of Matt Jardine. Blondie brought back his energy, as although Pet Sounds lacks the rocking guitars he's clearly used to, he was let loose on a Tambourine, again owning the stage. Al Jardine was a consistent presence, playing multiple guitars beautifully with a singing voice as strong as ever. The remaining band members, all linked to Brian in some way, were all insanely talented, each taking on the playing of multiple instruments, the sound of which was terrific!
Upon leaving the stage, the band were sent off with a standing ovation. Obviously they returned for an encore of more of their greatest hits including Barbara Ann, Help Me Rhonda, Surfing USA and a personal favourite Fun Fun Fun, before playing which, the band showed how close they all truly are, jokingly introducing each other with satirical entrances.
The night came to a close with a performance of Love and Mercy from Brian's film of the same name. Having watched the film detailing the struggles Brian went through in his time with the Beach Boys, this show can only be applauded even more.
Worth absolutely every penny spent attending and purchasing merchandise, as this is definitely a show not to be forgotten.