Brian Wilson, Exhibition Centre, 28/07/2017

As the Beach Boys‘ founder Brian Wilson brought Pets Sounds to Liverpool one last time, SFN‘s Jack Cinnamomd was there to capture a legend in a standout performance.

Looking back at their time, there aren’t many 60s pop bands as celebrated as The Beach Boys, with their dizzying fun early surf-hits to the later half of their original tenure with the seminal classic album Pet Sounds, the acclaimed child of frontman Brian Wilson

Tonight, Wilson steps into the new Exhibition Centre to close the venue’s double-Bill opening (shared with Gary Numan on Thursday) with one of the final performances of his Pet Sounds

By time Wilson and his band, including original Beach Boys member Al Jardine and frequent collaborator Blondie Chaplin, take stage the adoring crowd are ready to set the legend for one of his final major outings. 

He opens with “California Girls“, signifying the first half of tonight’s show would be a mixture of classic Beach Boys hits, before following with “Dance, Dance, Dance” and “I Get Around“. 

With the band’s opening set rounding up after around an hour, it’s easy to see why Wilson and the Beach Boys are so beloved. There’s not many artists who can preform an opening set, avoiding a majority of the best known hits, and leave the audience already happy. 

Wilson‘s choice of songs for his first half illustrate that even the Beach Boys‘ career isn’t just full of the hits, but also packed with extemly well-written, underrated classics from over the years. Highlights including “Surfer Girl“, “In My Room“, “Feel Flows“, “Don’t Worry Baby” and the shining “Darlin’” that just show-off the versatility of Wilson and his band. 

Brian Wilson, photography by James Ainsworth.

The second half, the full performance of the celebrated fifty years old Pet Sounds, kicked off with the extraordinary “Wouldn’t It Be Nice?“, which had everybody singing. 

Just a few songs in, around “I’m Waiting for the Day” and “Let’s Go Away for Awhile“, it’s evident that we’re hearing a rare moment. It’s not often that you can hear the age of an album before you, in a beautiful and poignant way, with Brian Wilson‘s aged voice and his delicate form, the 50th anniversary of an album has never seemed so important or even special.

Sloop John B” induces a sing-a-long, but for Pet Sounds lovers they know the end is getting nearer as we come to the almost-perfect rundown, Al Jardine comments “let’s slow thus down with the best song this man has ever written” and we know he’s right as we ascend into “God Only Knows“. 

It’s magical, Wilson pours his heart into his and the Beach Boys‘ greatest song and it’s stunning. 

We reach the instrumental masterpiece “Pet Sounds” and finally “Caroline, No“, which ends the album. 

After the band intros, the encore begins with “Good Vibrations“, the encore is set to features the rest of the Beach Boys‘ hits to bookend perfectly. Followed by “Help Me, Ronda” and “Barbara Ann“, just song after song that you can’t help but singing along to. 

The heartwarming sight-of-the-night pops up during the extremely fun duo of “Surfin’ USA” and “Fun, Fun, Fun” when people of all ages brought of their invisible surf boards and danced together, even a few of our team could be spotted dancing the night away. 

We end the night with a solo Wilson cut in the form of the sincere “Love and Mercy” which sends us all home joyous. The celebration is almost over, but the legacy of Pet Sounds will live on for many more years. 

Brian Wilson, photography by James Ainsworth.

Words by Jack Cinnamond, photography by James Ainsworth.

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