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Brian Wilson


Brian Wilson

August 16, 2002 @ Avalon

With their Hawaiian shirts filled with protruding bellies, the crowd at Avalon looked more like an indoor Parrothead convention than fans for one of America’s greatest musical geniuses. Once the lights went down and Sir Brian and his 11-piece band emerged from the wings, however, all that mattered was the music.
Seated behind a rarely used keyboard and flanked by a pair of troublesome teleprompters, Wilson appeared gaunt but energized with his coiffed hair, wild gesticulations and ejaculated intermezzos. Surrounded by a gaggle of talented multi-instrumentalists whose repertoire included banks of keyboards, banjos, brass and even a “Hooter,” Wilson let his lyrics emerge slowly and somewhat timidly from his jowls. The subtly conducted melodic parfaits of “Home on the Range” were a bit cracked and a spoken “Sail On Sailor” was a bit “uninspired” (to quote itself), but had a back beat that was not to be denied. Using “Good Timin’” as a tribute to his “deceased brother Carl” gave the song a new air, but “California Girls” had all the bounce and magic it has always had. The sudden fadeouts of the refreshingly brief songs reminded the audience of the age of LPs, especially the jukebox hot Dance on the Spot” with its sizzling solos and cruising rhythms. Requesting a show of lighters for its own sake, Wilson elicited many more throughout the night through such fan favorites as the lushly-layered “Blues Melt Away” and the Gregorian falsetto-fest that is “Heroes and Villains.” “Surf’s Up” was filled with mumbly poetry yet still lit up the stage with a curtain of blue stars that twinkled like Wilson’s sagging eyes.
Ending part one of the night with his “personal favorite,” the pure rock of “Hey, Marcella,” Wilson and the band quickly returned for a complete and in-order run through of Pet Sounds. Bouncinginto “Wouldn’t It be Nice?,” Brian and the boys (lower case ”b”) sailed through the grandfatherly reminiscence of “Sloop John B” and started Macca’s favorite, “God Only Knows” twice, letting a French Horn solo ring through the hangar-like hall, perhaps for the first time. “Hang On To Your Ego” was a schizophrenic psycho-harmonic warning and “I Wasn’t Made for These Times” was still telling and true.
Closing part two with a “lovely” “Caroline, No,” the band emerged twice more for a series of greatest hits encores that included an orange-sweet “Good Vibrations,” waves of “Surfer Girl” and a T-Rex-y “Do It Again” that had the crowd nearly banging gongs for more.

- Matthew S. Robinson
c. 2002, M. S. Robinson, ARR



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