Adelaide has been treated to some awesome shows over the last couple of weeks but it was hard not to get a little excited about Brian Wilson coming to town and commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of The Beach Boy’s iconic and most critically acclaimed albums in the history of popular music as well as being one of the most influential.
As a fan of all sorts of music I felt this duty to ensure that I check out every single living legend when they play in Adelaide rock city. In a word it was brilliant. Brian Wilson’s struggles have been well documented and many doubt his ability to reproduce the magic of yesteryear but this show went a long way to proving the harshest critics wrong. It was a standing ovation that greeted Brian Wilson to the stage backed by an eleven piece music ensemble featuring one of the original Beach Boy’s Al Jardine, former guest member Blondie Chaplin and Al’s son, Matt Jardine who has toured with the band for many years.
There is quite a contrast between Brian Wilson’s band and Mike Love’s iteration of The Beach Boys. No doubt n my mind that Brian Wilson and company did the back catalogue justice giving the crowd everything they wanted to hear. The band is like a well oiled machine backing Wilson up who struggled at points during the show. His voice is still great, picks the right songs to sing which blends with the other vocalists just nicely.
Al Jardine on the other hand is in top fine, looks great and seemed genuinely excited to still be playing these great songs. The rock swagger of Blondie Chaplin adds a bit of flavour to the show and brings a smile amongst the crowd. Matt Jardine is a real stand out hitting all those falsettos just superbly filling some big shoes but doing it so well. The set is divided in to two parts trawling through the Beach Boys back catalogue mostly then the second part playing Pet Sounds from start to end.
Starting with the humble Our Prayer it wasn’t long until the likes of California Girls and Dance, Dance, Dance got people singing in their chairs. Don’t Worry Baby was just brilliant as was Honkin’ Down The Highway. Other highlights from the first set were some of my favourites including the likes of Heroes and Villains and the songs where Blondie Chaplin took the lead on Wild Honey, Funky Pretty and set closer Sail On, Sailor.
It was a short intermission returning to play Pet Sounds with Matt Jardine taking the lead on Wouldn’t It Be Nice. Sloop John B was great but the highlight of the night which gained another standing ovation was God Only Knows. Wilson remaining ever so focused asks the crowd to stop clapping as he needs to get on to the next song. It was one of those funny moments where the crowd got to laugh with Wilson. Where could the show go now? Seeing one of the most influential albums played in its entirety start to end was the pinnacle but there was more.
The encore was a moment where the band and crowd have a bit of funny as Wilson and band played all the Beach Boys hits. Good Vibrations, Help Me Rhonda, Barbara Ann, Surfin’ USA and Fun, Fun, Fun does not get any more epic than that. People were out of chairs dancing wherever there was space and the band fed off that energy. The night closed on Love & Mercy from Wilson’s 1988 solo album which a poignant and emotive send off for a true legend in the music business. It is hard not to feel that this might be the last time we get to see Brian Wilson, I hope I’m wrong though. It was truly one of those memorable concert experiences.