Brian Wilson Newcastle City Hall 6th March 2004
I didn’t think I would ever get to see Brian Wilson in concert. I’d seen the Beach Boys twice in the early 1970s, but on both occasions Brian was not in the band. At one of the concerts, at Wembley Stadium, Brian was there backstage and I think he may have come on stage to say “hello” to the crowd. But he had not actually played with the band for some years.
Then in the late 1990s the impossible happened. Brian Wilson put a band together and starting to play concerts. Those who saw him, reviewers and fans alike, were ecstatic and unanimous in praise for the man and his music. It is easy to use the word “genius”; we probably do so too often, but in the case of Brian Wilson, the term is true and well-deserved.
I got my first chance to see Brian Wilson when he came to Newcastle City Hall in March 2004. We (me, Marie, David and Laura) went along. We all wanted to see this. It was the “Smile” tour and consisted of a Beach Boys greatest hits set, followed by the legendary “Smile” album played in its entirety.
Brian Wilson had assembled a large band of first class musicians and vocalists to help him recreate the Beach Boys music and their lush harmonies. And they did so, faultlessly. This was a long show, but the pace and the pure class of the music and the performance didn’t let up for a moment. It was great to see Brian on stage, a few feet in front of us, looking and sounding great. Most of the Smile album was unfamiliar to me, but that didn’t matter. An amazing concert, and the first of a few visits by Brian to the UK. And during the encore, they played my favourite songs: “Do It Again” and “I Get Around”. It really doesn’t get much better 🙂
First Set: And Your Dream Comes True; In My Room; Hawaii; Please Let Me Wonder; All Summer Long; Good Timin’; You’re Welcome; Sloop John B; God Only Knows; Time to Get Alone; Soul Searchin’; California Girls; Dance, Dance, Dance; Darlin’; City Blues; Marcella
Brian Wilson Presents SMILE: Our Prayer/Gee; Heroes and Villains; Roll Plymouth Rock; Barnyard; Old Master Painter / You Are My Sunshine; Cabinessence; Wonderful; Look (Song for Children); Child Is Father of the Man; Surf’s Up; I’m in Great Shape / I Wanna Be Around / Workshop; Vega-Tables; On a Holiday; Wind Chimes; Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow; In Blue Hawaii; Good Vibrations
Encore: Do It Again; I Get Around; Help Me, Rhonda; Barbara Ann; Surfin’ U.S.A.; Fun, Fun, Fun
Encore 2: Love and Mercy
Archive for the ‘Beach Boys’ Category
Brian Wilson Newcastle City Hall 6th March 2004
It’s been 40 (!) years since I last saw the Beach Boys in concert. Since then Dennis and Carl Wilson have both sadly passed away, and Brian Wilson has returned to live performance, briefly reuniting with Mike Lcve, Bruce Johnston, Al Jardine and David Marks for a 50th anniversary tour. The current line-up features only Mike Love and Bruce Johnston from the 1960s band, and has resulted in some controversy as to whether these guys can justify calling themselves the Beach Boys. I went along with Marie to this concert out of curiosity, but also to enjoy those great songs one more time. We stayed at a hotel overlooking the race course, and were able to stroll over to join the punters in the County Stand. There were six races before the Beach Boys came on stage. Sadly our betting skills are not great, and we succeeded in losing on every race. Oh well.
The stage was situated along from the stands, and the only way to get a decent view was to move along the course. The Beach Boys came on stage shortly before 9pm. We made our way close to the front, but found the sound to be pretty poor down there, so we returned to the stands. Although we were then only able to view the show on the massive screens, the sound was excellent. The set was, as you would expect, a mix of all those great hits. I was disappointed at first, the poor sound didn’t help, but things started to improve and by the end I was really enjoying it. One unexpected, and very welcome. surprise was the arrival of Roy Wood for a performance of “Fire Brigade”. The other highlight was a performance of “God Only Knows” which showed Carl Wilson singing on the video screens. Carl’s voice and the images, which were taken from the ’60s through to the ’80s, reminded me just how wonderful and influential The Beach Boys were.
Setlist: Do It Again; Goin’ to the Beach; Little Honda; Catch a Wave; Hawaii; Surf City; Surfin’ Safari; Surfer Girl; Don’t Worry Baby; Little Deuce Coupe; 409; Shut Down; I Get Around; Ballad of Ole’ Betsy; Why Do Fools Fall in Love; Darlin’; It’s OK; Fire Brigade (The Move cover, with Roy Wood); California Dreamin’; Cotton Fields; Sloop John B; Wouldn’t It Be Nice; Then He Kissed Me; California Girls; Pisces Brother; God Only Knows; Good Vibrations; Kokomo; Help Me, Rhonda; Do You Wanna Dance?; Barbara Ann; Surfin’ U.S.A. Encore: Wild Honey; Fun, Fun, Fun (with Roy Wood)
Elton John, Beach Boys, Eagles Wembley Stadium June 1975 Line-up (pretty great actually): Elton John, The Beach Boys, Eagles, Joe Walsh, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Stackridge, DJ and compere Johnnie Walker. This was a big gig for Elton John. He had just changed his band, with only Davey Johnstone remained from the previous line-up, and was about to release a new album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. I went down to London with a couple of mates and we stayed at a friend’s flat in Acton. We spent a couple of days in the capital before the concert and went to see Ducks Deluxe at the Marquee club, which was pretty good fun, except one of our party took ill and we spent half the night in hospital. The Wembley concert had an amazing line-up with Stackridge opening the day, Mutter Slater on his usual top form. Next up were Rufus who featured Chaka Khan, and delivered some funky soul rhythms. The rest of the bill featured Joe Walsh (Rocky Mountain Way was a big crowd favourite) and then the Eagles who performed all their hits and were joined by Jackson Brown on piano for Take it Easy. But the day belonged to one band: the Beach Boys who transformed the London stadium into sunny California and had us singing along to endless hit after hit. They went down a storm and Elton had a lot to live up to. This was one day when Elton made the wrong call. He decided to devote the majority of the set to playing the new Captain Fantastic album in its entirety. Now remember the album had only just been released and most of the crowd won’t have known any of the track. This didn’t go down well with the crowd, who were up for a greatest hit set, particularly after the Fun Fun Fun of the Beach Boys. People started to leave the stadium in their droves, including us. We made our way back to Acton where a couple of the flatmates were having a domestic. We decided to avoid that and set off on our 250 mile drive home, getting back in the early hours of the next morning. Setlist: Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding; Rocket Man; Candle in the Wind; The Bitch Is Back; Dixie Lily; Philadelphia Freedom; Chameleon; Bennie and the Jets; Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds; I Saw Her Standing There; Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy; Tower of Babel; Bitter Fingers; Tell Me When the Whistle Blows; Someone Saved My Life Tonight; (Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket; Better Off Dead; Writing; We All Fall in Love Sometimes; Curtains; Pinball Wizard; Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting