The stage is set, the audience is waiting in their seats, the lights go down, and the band starts to walk up the ramp and onto the stage. It’s a hot Saturday July night in Phoenix and Danny Zelisko Presents with the Celebrity Theatre welcome Brian Wilson and his band for their performance of Brian’s masterpiece, Pet Sounds. This was the Pet Sounds 50th Anniversary World Tour and Final Performance in its Entirety.
I grew up in the 60s and remember listing to the Beach Boys as a kid. I have a sister who is 6 years older and I would listen to her music and this is how I was exposed to the Beach Boys and other groups at a very young age. I really enjoyed their “California sound”. I was never lucky enough to see them in their prime, but I had all of their albums and wore most of them out. Finally, I seized my chance to see Brian Wilson and his band perform the 50th anniversary of Pet Sounds.
Wilson showed his age a bit as he was helped onto the stage and sat stiffly behind his grand piano. I later learned that he had hurt his back. Also, Wilson’s voice is not what it was 50 years ago, so he had long time friends Al Jardine, Blonde Chaplin, Paul Von Mertens and Al’s son, Matt Jardine help with the vocals. Together, they made the audience sway with nostalgia–age be damned.
The show started out with Beach Boys favorites, Our Prayer and Heroes and Villians. Next, they did a cover of Tina Turner’s River Deep, Mountain High. They then settled back and did a number of Brian’s classic songs such as Surfer Girl and One Kind Of Love from Brian’s 2015 album, No Pier Pressure. The first set ended with Blondie Chaplin joining the band to sing and play guitar on Wild Honey, Funky Pretty and finally Sail on Sailor.
Brian announced they would be performing Pet Sounds in its entirety as the second set. They launched into Wouldn’t It Be Nice to the cheers and clapping of the audience. As Brian sang You Still Believe In Me and That’s Not Me, you can tell that the years had taken a toll on his voice. But with Matt, Al, Blondie and Paul helping on vocals, they started to sound and harmonize like the original Beach Boys. Often Brian and Matt would trade off lead vocals within the songs especially when Matt was required to provide the high-pitched falsetto vocals that are a Beach Boys signature sound. Half way though the set, Brian commented that God Only Knows was the best song he ever wrote. After they completed the song, the audience gave Brian and the band a standing ovation. They completed the Pet Sounds set with Caroline, No and then followed it with my personal favorite, Good Vibrations. At this point the audience was standing, dancing and singing along. What a way to close out the set.
After a short break, the encore started with the introduction of the band members, with the best being saved to last, Brian. They then went into a non-stop version of All Summer Long, Help Me, Rhonda, Barbara Ann, Surfin’ USA, and Fun, Fun, Fun. The last song of the night was Love And Mercy, a very personal song for Brian.
Brian will go down as one of the great song writers of my era and Pet Sounds being his masterpiece. Brian might not be at his best, but he has pulled together a groups of friends and musicians that pull off the music wonderfully. Brian’s current band members are: Al Jardine (Guitar, Vocals), Blondie Chaplin (Vocals, Guitar), Paul Von Mertens (Vocals, Saxophone, Harmonica), Matt Jardine (Vocals), Mike D’Amico (Drums), Bob Lizik (Bass), Nicky Wonder (Guitar, Vocals), Nelson Bragg (Percussion, Vocals), Probyn Gregory (Guitar), Billy Hinsche (Keyboards) and Gary Griffin (Keyboards).
Review and photos by Fred Kuhlman
Promoter: Danny Zelisko Presents
Photos © Fred Kuhlman 2016
Set 1 List: (Album)
Our Prayer / Heroes And Villians (20/20 / Smiley Smile)
River Deep, Mountain High (Tina Turner cover)
California Girls (Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!))
Dance, Dance, Dance (The Beach Boys Today!)
I Get Around / Shutdown / Little Deuce Coupe (All Summer Long / Surfin’ USA / Surfer Girl)
Hushabye (All Summer Long)
Surfer Girl (Surfer Girl)
Don’t Worry Baby (Shut Down Volume 2)
Wake The World/Add Some Music to Your Day (Friends / Sunflower)
California Saga (Holland)
One Kind of Love (No Pier Pressure)
Wild Honey (Wild Honey)
Funky Pretty (Holland)
Sail on Sailor (Holland)
Set 2 List: (Pets Sounds)
Wouldn’t It Be Nice
You Still Believe In Me
That’s Not Me
I’m Waiting For The Day
Let’s Go Away For Awhile – Instrumental
Sloop John B
God Only Knows
I Know There’s An Answer
I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times
Pet Sounds – Instrumental
Good Vibrations (Good Vibrations)
All Summer Long (All Summer Long)
Help Me, Rhonda (Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!))
Barbara Ann (Beach Boys’ Party!)
Surfin’ USA (Surfin’ USA)
Fun, Fun, Fun (Shut Down Volume 2)
Love And Mercy (Brian Wilson)