LIVE: Brian Wilson @ the Palace Theatre, 10/8/13
Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
There were, in fact, moments during the show when I could have sworn that the sun was actually rising behind the band on stage at the Palace Theatre. Their harmonies sounded so golden, so shimmering that I could actually see their voices appear on stage like rays of light at dawn.
And, no, hallucinogens were not involved… at least not on my part.
Cracking open the concert with a smooth-as-silk 10-voice choral a cappella rendition of the Four Freshmen’s “Their Hearts Were Full of Spring,” Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, David Marks and the marvelous Wondermints, simply soared through 65 minutes of Beach Boys hits. Somewhat disappointingly, there wasn’t a single selection from Wilson’s own solo work, not even “Love and Mercy.” Whether the total focus on the Beach Boys catalog was a nod to Jardine and Marks, or whether it was Wilson’s bid to wrest the Beach Boys’ rich legacy from the clutches of the Mike Love/Brian Johnston faction, the end results were glorious.
Seated at his white grand piano, Wilson was less the bandleader and more of a figurehead presiding over his own personal tribute band, but he had his moments, especially during the masterpiece “God Only Knows” and the epic “Heroes and Villains,” which Wilson aptly introduced as “a pretty far-out tune.”
Wilson deservedly got top billing, of course, while Jardine and Marks took the second-tier with an occasional lead vocal turn – Jardine with the Crystals’ “And I Kissed Her,” the superfluous “Ole Man River/Cottonfields” medley and “Sloop John B,” while Marks stepped up to the mic for Dennis Wilson’s “Little Bird.”
But it was Jeff Foskett who earned the most valuable player award for the evening, standing centerstage as he unleashed those devastating falsetto vocal parts so crucial to the Beach Boys’ sound, and took over the lead on several tunes, including “Don’t Worry, Baby,” one of the true highlights of the night.
Dominated by aging boomers, the crowd was quite content to remain seated and didn’t get to its feet until coaxed up with “Help Me, Rhonda” and “I Get Around.”
Then Wilson & Co. whirled into “Good Vibrations,” and that should have been that, but no, they inexplicably tacked on “Fun, Fun, Fun” to end the show – a frivolous follow-up to a transcendent song. Too bad.
19 songs in 65 minutes.
But they weren’t done yet, returning to the stage during Jeff Beck’s set, to meld their glorious voices with Beck’s liquid guitar for a few songs, including a jaw-dropping treatment of “Surf’s Up.” They came back onstage again for a trio of encores with Beck and band – 16 musicians in all, rompin’ through “Barbara Ann” and “Surfin’ USA” before mellowing out with an exquisite “Danny Boy.”
If you had told me that I was going to see a concert by two rock-era legends that would open with a Four Freshmen song and close with “Danny Boy,” I never would have believed you…
Paul Rapp’s review at Metroland
Excerpt from Michael Hochanadel’s review at The Daily Gazette: “How good can sexagenarians still sound after a half-century onstage? The answer was sumptuously clear in the first hour. [Brian] Wilson, with fellow Beach Boys Al Jardine and David Marks sounded magnificent, an enormous, driving roar of massed instruments propelling equally massive voices. They played fewer car songs than in last year’s all-hands-on-deck reunion and yielded to none of that tour’s defensive, self-deprecation about age.”
BRIAN WILSON SET LIST
Their Hearts Were Full of Spring (Four Freshmen) (a cappella)
California Girls (Beach Boys)
Do It Again (Beach Boys)
Then I Kissed Her (The Crystals) (Al Jardine voc.)
Don’t Worry Baby (Beach Boys) (Jeff Foskett voc.)
Little Bird (Beach Boys) (David Marks voc.)
Old Man River/Cottonfields (Al Jardine voc.)
‘Til I Die (Beach Boys)
Sail On, Sailor (Beach Boys)
Heroes and Villains (Beach Boys)
Marcella (Beach Boys)
Pet Sounds (Beach Boys)
God Only Knows (Beach Boys)
Sloop John B (Al Jardine voc.)
Wouldn’t It Be Nice (Beach Boys) (Jeff Foskett/Brian Wilson voc.)
Help Me, Rhonda (Beach Boys) (Al Jardine voc.)
I Get Around (Beach Boys) (Jeff Foskett/Brian Wilson voc.)
Good Vibrations (Beach Boys)
Fun, Fun, Fun (Beach Boys)
WITH JEFF BECK & HIS BAND:
Our Prayer (Beach Boys)
Child Is Father of the Man (Beach Boys)
Surf’s Up (Beach Boys)
How High the Moon (Les Paul & Mary Ford) (with members of Brian Wilson’s band)
Rollin’ and Tumblin’ (Muddy Waters) (with members of Brian Wilson’s band)
ENCORES WITH JEFF BECK & HIS BAND
Barbara Ann (The Regents)
Surfin’ U.S.A. (Beach Boys)