Oldies But Goldies: Brian Wilson At The Greek Theatre, June 20th, 2015

Written by | March 16, 2016 5:58 am | one response

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(Though it was less than a year ago, with Steve Crawford putting the Beach Boys as the # 2 Greatest American Rock band, it is worth returning to Edward Huerta’s terrific review, a review so great it caught  Mr. Wilson’s attention… IL)

It was a near perfect evening for Brian Wilson’s birthday celebration at the Greek Theatre yesterday. We had great seats, again THANK YOU to A. Barker and family (my friends are truly amazingly special and gift me with so much love that I will find it impossible to ever pay them back). All the stars were aligned for the night, a recent album of new material, a new well-received bio-pic, old friends and family gathered plus they found Sugarman Rodriguez to open the show.

Rodriguez started the show, in the twilight, playing solo with a very troublesome guitar. His songs were catchy, well written, workingman’s songs in the strain of Dylan but very much in his own voice. It helped that I saw the documentary on Rodriguez and quickly recognized some of his tunes. The crowd was very respectful and attentive even though Rodriguez battled tuning issues pretty much after every number.

Wilson and his band bounded out to a birthday themed decorated stage and opened with the beautiful “Our Prayer”, and thirty four songs later, ended the set with “Love and Mercy”. Now draw the connecting line here folks…We are talking about one of the most spiritual performers in music history, possible only Curtis Mayfield comes to mind, where one can feel the blessings of presence of grace and of goodness up on that stage. If Brian were to do these two songs only and flip off the audience as he strolled away from his piano, he would have gotten a standing ovation. This man does NOT have to prove himself to anyone anymore. He has earned the right to be Brian Wilson. The love was palpable that radiated to and from the stage. But much more happened between those two songs. Maybe it was the new movie, maybe it was because it was his birthday, maybe because Brian is feeling much better these days or maybe he was happy to be back home in Southern California where we all truly grew up and bought into the life of fun, fun, fun and getting around and two girls for every guy, but he was in great form:  confident, joking between songs and explaining vocal “ghosting” and giving out props. It was fantastic to see him so animated and happy.I have seen Brian perform many, many times in the past but this show’s energy level transcended all the others.

Brian’s band is simply amazing. Led mostly by Darian Sahanaja and Paul Von Mertens, all the players are vocally outstanding…more shouts to Scott Bennet, Probyn Gregory, Nelson Bragg and especially to Matt Jardine who took over the Jeffrey Foskett parts and ran with them even farther. The addition of Jardine was like adding the icing on a perfect cake. His pop, Al, was on rhythm guitar and guests included another Beach Boy, the exuberant, lively one, Blondie Chaplin and wonderful singer Sabu Simonian, who performed a great, modernized rocking, rework of “Don’t Worry Baby”.

Set highlights included “This Whole World”, The Little Girl I Once Knew”, “Shut Down”, “Then I Kissed Her”, “Wild Honey” (with Chaplin singing and blistering guitar parts), “She Knows Me Too Well”, “Wake the World” and this is the first time I ever heard him do “Busy Doin’ Nothing” the bossa nova ode from 1968 Friends lp. You mix that in with the hits (California Girls, God Only Knows, In My Room, Lil Deuce Coupe….do I really have to list them???) and it was just a marvel that these melodies along with these arrangements came from one man’s mind. Any artist would give up ten years of their life to write just one masterpiece. Can you imagine an entire set of them?? And this was just the tip of the iceberg! He could have played all night long!

I don’t normally grade shows or albums but let me throw an A+++ on this one. Again, the man is a treasure, the songs are woven into our bloodstream and psyche, and to not enjoy an evening as special as this one, and to not love this man and his creations, and to not leave the theatre with a spirit of joy and good feeling… well then man, you must be made of freaking ice and need some deep therapy! We love you Brian and Happy Birthday! Thank you for the wonderful present.

Setlist:

Our Prayer
Heroes and Villains
Happy Birthday
(To the man himself Brian Wilson)
California Girls
This Whole World
The Little Girl I Once Knew
I Get Around
Shut Down
Little Deuce Coupe
Then He Kissed Me
Cotton Fields
In My Room
Surfer Girl
One Kind of Love
Sail Away
Wild Honey
Sail On, Sailor
She Knows Me Too Well
Wake the World
Busy Doin’ Nothin’
Surf’s Up
The Right Time
Runaway Dancer
(with Sebu Simonian)
Don’t Worry Baby
(with Sebu Simonian)
Wouldn’t It Be Nice
Sloop John B
God Only Knows
Good Vibrations

Encore:
All Summer Long
Help Me, Rhonda
Barbara Ann
Surfin’ U.S.A.
Fun, Fun, Fun
Love and Mercy

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