Fifty Years Of Fun, Sun & Staying Young
Fifty long years have passed since the Californian quintet first released ‘Pet Sounds’ to the world, with the United Kingdom being one of the first continents to take an instant interest in the band’s eleventh studio album.
Although the theme alterations may not have been met with warm tidings when first released, the now iconic LP has been placed on multiple pedestals across the musical plateau as an unwavering requirement for connoisseurs and proletarians alike. The band may have come to an undesirable halt, but their legacy will always be available to the public through a search engine, a well-nurtured record shelf or a memory that is simply too brilliant to forget.
Celebrating the albums 50th Anniversary, Brian “Dog Ears” Wilson set out to tour the United Kingdom alongside long-time colleagues Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin, ready to show his adoring fans that reaching his seventies has not dampened his character or talent.
Eleven musicians made their way into position and before any note had been struck, the audience of the St Davids Hall were prepared to pay their respects with a standing ovation, perching a smile on Mr Wilson’s lips that warmed the heart.
Shimmering lights awoke, bathing them in brilliantly coloured light as they rose from the indistinguishable harmonies of “Our Prayer” and into the unquestionable arms of “Heroes and Villains’”. The spectators could not contain their delight as they sang along with the massive melodies, practically vibrating in their theater seats.
Al Jardine stood confidently with his light blue Fender Stratocaster, unaltered vocals and rainbow striped shirt striking out through the vast venue as Mr Wilson appeared settled and dignified in his appearance and singing nature, with his sharp shirt blending into the sleek polish of his grand piano.
Flowing into “California Girls”, the dark evening venue was transformed into a tropical paradise, flowing with the delectable croon and swoon vibe that took nearly forty years to perfect. Although only Jardine and Wilson were present from the original line-up, the ten additional musicians brought along for the ride, were more than capable of keeping the summer torch ignited.
With each passing track, the use of various instruments continued to impress. Three to four guitarists, keyboards, synthesizers, percussion instruments, woodwind instruments, brass instruments, mouth harp, banjo and even a harmonica emerged through the astounding forty odd tracks played throughout the evening.
The collection of musicians who honed them were also star-studded, including saxophonist Paul Von Merten, percussionist Nelson Bragg, pianist Gary Griffin and The Wondermints members Nick “wonder” Walusko, Michael D’Amico and Probyn Gregory.
As songs passed, one of the backing vocalists made his way to the front where Al announced he was actually his son, Matt Jardine. Having the high pitch necessary, he took the lead role, replacing Mr Wilson with barbershop ballad “Don’t Worry Baby”. Hearing Brian’s current range, it might have proven difficult to reach those familiar falsetto notes but still insisted on following the harmony threads as Matt soldiered through with complete control.
Mr Wilson however, came to reveal his true strength with the sublime “One Kind of Love” from his solo album ‘No Pier Pressure’, and the tender “In My Room”.
With the interval in sight, a welcomed guest appearance from Blondie Chaplin was ushered in as the eccentric and vibrant South African guitarist melted into “Wild Honey”.
The ex-beach boy/Rolling Stoner had a real character that was tricky to ignore, as he embodied the Rock n Roll spirit with an emotional and dramatic motion bleeding through every string bend and guitar pluck.
Wandering the stage soloing and guitar battling with Al Jardine, “Sail On, Sailor” cruised through the setlist with Mr Chaplin taking the helm, before leaving the occupants out to the bar with a pummeling drum sign off.
Returning refreshed and ready for more, Mr Wilson took his piano seat once again and announced that they will be commencing with ‘Pet Sounds’, which was instantly met with appreciation. There have always been two types of musicians in regards to a seated live performance.
One type will have you sitting back and relaxing, slightly vacant to the moment and others have you poised on the edge of your seat. “Wouldn’t it Be Nice” lured the eager fans to personify the latter, teetering over the edge of their cushioned chairs as they mouthed the words to the heavenly chorus.
Enter the familiar five French horn notes of “God Only Knows” to bring on a touching outcome as men and women were embraced in each other’s arms. The flawless instrumental masked Brian’s dry struggle to reach certain heights, receiving little grimace in response.
“I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” included the true air of melancholy that walked hand in hand with Mr Wilson, as a debatable personification walked with this particular album that it was released at a time when the generation wasn’t quite ready for it.
A moving standing ovation took place, which lasted the entirety of the encore. Perfectly stitching together the artists most celebrated songs from “Barbara Ann” and “Fun, Fun, Fun”, leaving no gaps for the audience to leave their feet. “Good Vibrations” crackled into life with those recognisable low tones and high harmonies that made the premise of the night so enticing.
Each musician reflected a personality trait that the music not only embraced but induced within its fans as well. From Brian Wilson’s reserved nature to Blondie Chaplin’s flowing vitality, the overall ambiance proved to be well-balanced and extraordinarily captivating.