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Brian Wilson – Philharmonic Hall

The genius behind the Beach Boys gives Mike Chapple excitations. Pictures: Mark McNulty

Published on September 3rd 2009.


Brian Wilson – Philharmonic Hall

FOR someone who has produced some of the most joyous songs in the history of popular music, Brian Wilson looks a miserable git.

It was on the slower, more wistful ballads, when the band came to bolster the Wilson tenor, that the spine was treated to an especially delicious tickle

But, to be honest, the man who finally got round to completing his long lost Smile opus at the dawn of the 21st century, for 30 years had very little to smile about.

Dogged by drug problems, profound personal insecurity and family tragedy (this is a man, remember, who has been deaf in one ear since being clouted as a child by his mad dad) we all thought at one time the former Beach Boy had packed up his lilo and left the sand dunes, never to return.

Recent years, however, has seen a resurrection akin to Lazarus proportions, especially on the stage front, and recently Liverpudlians have been luckier than most to see this 67 year old finally enjoying the fruit of his labours as his sun finally begins to set in the West.

Not that you'd know it, of course, perched on his stool with that expressionless stone wall of a face looking out from over his keyboard at a Philharmonic Hall ready to party along in a sublime celebration of some of his greatest hits.

Seasoned Brian watchers among them, though, would have noted the small nuances that he was indeed having a good time like the rest of us. It was there in the occasional finger-popping, elbow-jiggling and, gasp, a bit of half-

hearted hand-clapping. There was even some laconic banter, in between sips from his coffee mug, which had the faithful chuckling in genuine amusement.

But what about the music, I hear you squawk.

Well, what superlatives can be used to express such complete satisfaction in its delivery? Supported by a peerless 10-piece backing band, this was a sensational near-two-hour rendition of marvels from the Wilson canon, rattled off in machine gun style with barely a 20-minute break in between. Led by the stalwart Jeff Foskett, they breezed through a first half which contained such golden nuggets as California Girls, I Get Around and Then I Kissed Her.

It was on the slower, more wistful ballads, when the band came to bolster the Wilson tenor, that the spine was treated to an especially delicious tickle.

The delivery of In My Room and Surfer Girl, when nine of the band joined the Man Who Cannot Swim in almost supernatural harmony, was simply stunning. It was neatly rounded off on, er hum, a crest of wave, with Sail On Sailor - a metaphor if ever there was one for Wilson's own life - and Do It Again.

The second half proceeded to take things even higher and it didn't take much encouragement from the band's very own sex symbol, Taylor Mills, to get everyone on their feet and clapping along in unashamed Sammy the Seal fashion. These celebrations embarrassingly included some ungracious dad dancing - and even granddad dancing - down in the Phil's temporary mosh pit.

All Summer Long, a slowed down Little Deuce Coupe, Wouldn't It Be Nice, Sloop John B, Surfin USA , Good Vibrations . . . I could go on but I think you can get the picture for yourself that the audience was by now on the verge of ecstasy.

It was all rounded off in the encores with a doff of the cap to the Beatles birthplace with a mass singalong of Eight Days A Week and finally, and appropriately, that song of redemption Love and Mercy.

"We love you, Brian!" shouted someone just before he shambled off stage at the last.

And, within our hearts, so said all of us.

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8 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousSeptember 3rd 2009.

entirely agree with the review- I also noticed a half smile, so I think he was really enjoying himself! The night and the band just got better and better and I think the reaction of the audience was really appreciated.

SandySeptember 3rd 2009.

Great gig and great review . As one of the dad boppers ( can't call what i do dancing) thought Mike's review called it about right.Welcome back to Planet Earth Brian

Go goSeptember 3rd 2009.

I agree with the shouting person: A proper critique. Excellent to see Mike Chapple back writing.

GordoSeptember 3rd 2009.

Anon, stop shouting....

AnonymousSeptember 3rd 2009.

I've always fancied that chap on the xylophone. Wasn't he the one who brought Wilson out of hibernation a few years ago.

AnonymousSeptember 3rd 2009.

MIKE CHAPPLE WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? GREAT TO READ A GOOD CRIT, MAKES ME MORE SAD THAT I HAD TO WORK AND MISS THE FAB BEACH BOY-THE GREAT GOD BRIAN ! ANY CHANCE OF PUB COLUMN ANTICS?

AnonymousSeptember 3rd 2009.

Not sure about those comments about the Echo - Jade Wright did her usual interview in advance of the show which appeared in 24/7, and was at the gig. But you're right about the lack of review. Anyway, welcome back Mike - a far better writer!

In Memory of Proper JournalismSeptember 3rd 2009.

The Liverpool Echo appears to have overlooked this event entirely, while the Daily Post evidently deemed it only momentous enough to send their business reporter. Perhaps next they could try sending their music reviewer (if they still have such a thing) to the annual general meeting of Barclays Bank - I'm sure it would be similarly well informed. Thank goodness we can rely on the excellent Liverpool Confidential to provide an erudite and entertaining evaluation of Wilson's performance.

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