Friday 28 August 2017, Liverpool Exhibition Centre
What a special experience for everyone involved. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Beach Boys‘ iconic Pet Sounds album, musical pioneering genius Brian Wilson returned to Liverpool to recapture the magic he made half a century ago. It might be apt here to take into consideration the link, and old rivalry, between The Beach Boys and The Beatles, whose back-and-forth competitiveness simultaneously inspired each other’s creative endeavours for years. Paul McCartney once said in an interview that Pet Sounds heavily influenced him when making Sgt. Pepper’s…, whose 50th anniversary is also being celebrated this year in Liverpool, and across the world. However competitive, and whichever side you wish to take, in the end both bands made massive impacts on the world of music, creating two albums that stand the test of time.
Topping so many lists of the most iconic album ever made, Pet Sounds was brought back to life tonight by the man himself, Brian Wilson, on piano and fellow original Beach Boy Al Jardine on lead guitar. Alongside them was Jardine’s son Matt, whose beautiful, high vocals were reminiscent of a young Brian Wilson. The event also received a special-guest appearance from Blondie Chaplin, who had joined the band in the ’80s and who also performed with The Rolling Stones.
Completing the lineup was a 12-piece band of musicians armed with guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, flutes, woodwind, horns, xylophones, bike bells and all sorts of percussion to do justice to the complexity of Pet Sounds. In fine technicolour, and under bright lights and luxurious stage curtain, Wilson, Jardine and their multitude of musicians commanded the stage and their audience. Blasting Pet Sounds in high definition, the players performed with such attention to detail as to show just what a class act looks like.
Opening with California Girls (“a Beach Boys anthem for you,” as Brian called it), they followed with hits Dance Dance Dance, Shut Down, Little Deuce Coupe and Little Honda (“those were our car songs; why not do a motorbike song?”). Jardine sang alongside Wilson for most of the set, taking the lead on songs such as Sloop John B, while son Matt took command of the higher harmonies in place of Wilson on songs such as Don’t Worry Baby.
After a 20-minute interlude, Wilson and the band dropped the much-anticipated classic God Only Knows, a song which harmonised across the venue, resounding with everyone it touched, and which to this day Wilson still calls the best song he’s ever written. Witnessing the whole album performed in its entirety was spectacular, though special mention must be given to Wilson’s solo of I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times. His performance of raw vocals gave an intimate feel to the show and struck a tone with the whole room. The rest of the band had their time to shine, too; the instrumental sections of the album allowed a showcase of the pure talent of the players, who accessed an array of sounds and layers that formed the very foundations of Pet Sounds.
Anyone at the front who had previously been seated was up on their feet for the encore. People young and old were boppin’ and groovin’ in the aisles to a final generous helping of Good Vibrations followed by contagious sing-a-longs Help me Rhonda, Surfin USA, Barbara Ann and Fun Fun Fun.
Wilson closed the set with an emotional rendition of Love and Mercy, which resonated with the crowd, spreading hopeful love and goodwill long after the performance had ended.
Artist: Brian Wilson
A truly special, privileged experience to witness Brian Wilson on form again, sharing his creation and musical genius with his fans after gifting 50 years of Pet Sounds to the world.