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Brian Wilson = Great Experience


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I just saw one of the greatest legends of music perform tonight. Ok, so he sat on a stool the whole night, but as Ollie said, "at least he got out of bed".

The man wrote some of the most incredible tunes and rivaled the Beatles. If it wasn't for Brian, I don't think you would have ever heard Sgt.Pepper. The Beatles were just as influenced by the Beach Boys (Brian Wilson) as they were (Brian Wilson).

Anyway, I held up my handheld recorder thingy and captured this.

Wouldn't it be Nice

And of course I managed to squeeze in a photo!


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That was a great show despite the PA problems. What struck me most was how much The Ramones appropriated the Beach Boys style, amped up a few notches. And it was just like a Ramones set, short catchy song after short catchy song. By the end of the set it was a parade of hits. Brian's backing band was killer.

Really great photo and recording Mike. Thanks!

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It sounded great from the back, but when I got up close I saw that he was barely singing and his band was carrying the performance. I felt sorry for the guy.

They should have at least attached sticks to his arms so that they could move him like a puppet.


I was disappointed, too, but after leaving about 10 minutes into the (first?) PA outage, Calexico thoroughly re-appointed me.



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I think he actually sang the parts that he sang in the beach boys. Don't forget, there were 5 strong singers in that band. My bet is the Brian mimicked the performances to suit the original arrangements.

I have to retract this statement. He actually sang the lead in the original recording but as you can hear on this recording from last night, he's not singing lead. Mike Love sings the bridge on the album, but Brian is singing it here.

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Brian looked to be singing "his" parts from my vantage point but I'm by no means a Beach Boys scholar so I don't know if he was singing the parts he originally sang.

I obviously cut the guy a lot of slack due to his condition but his band were pros. There are very few times I get to see a true musical legend up close and in person and that was enough to carry it for me. And as subtle as his gestures were, he did seem to be enjoying himself. And he sounded good on the last song from his new album that they did.

What did he say before "God Only Knows"? Something about it being the best or something song he'd ever written. I thought it was pretty heavy (in a good way) when we was singing that one.

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What did he say before "God Only Knows"? Something about it being the best or something song he'd ever written. I thought it was pretty heavy (in a good way) when we was singing that one.

He said "This is the greatest song that I ever wrote"

He wasn't kidding. I might have that part on my recorder. I did have it out for that tune, but I may have been late

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OTTAWA - I've seen The Beach Boys in one incarnation or another a half-dozen times, but I never thought I'd see the original Beach Boy Brian Wilson perform live.

After all, the guy who altered the course of American pop music in the 1960s has been called both a genius and a madman, vowed in 1964 to never play a live show again.

Well, last night at Bluesfest, that same troubled, beloved Wilson showed up for his nostalgic gig of Beach Boys classics.

But it was about as far from being a 'live' show as you find.

For more than an hour, Wilson seemed pretty out of it, at least as far as fronting a band at Bluesfest goes. He spent virtually the whole 75-minutes perched on a stool, staring blankly out at the audience and singing occasionally while his enthusiastic band pumped out lively party versions of old favourites, mostly from the Beach Boy songbook of the early '60s -- Dance Dance Dance, Surfer Girl, In My Room, And Then She Kissed Me, When I Grow Up to Be a Man, Do Ya Wanna Dance?, California Girls, I Want to Go Home, God Only Knows, Wouldn't It Be Nice, Help Me Rhonda and Surfin' U.S.A. and a tune from his new album That Lucky Old Sun.

Initially, I found Wilson's brief show horrifying and somewhat humiliating.

I thought he had recovered sufficiently from the paralyzing mental breakdown he suffered 35 years ago enough at least to perform. Instead, an obviously exhausted Wilson looked like he wouldn't be able to finish the show, saying nothing other than monosyllabic hellos.

Just when you thought things couldn't get worse, the sound system crashed into dead silence for almost two songs early in the set.

It's a credit to Wilson that the music he wrote 40 years ago still makes old foggies feel like teenagers. Eventually, the show lost some of its macabre polish, or we just got used to seeing him in a comatose state. By then, the fans were well into the music and the memories.

But there was something about the reality of seeing Wilson like this that makes the fantasy of The Beach Boys suddenly hard to take.

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I don't think anyone should go see Brian Wilson without an acute awareness of what he's about. Clearly, he's a delicate flower - as Neil Young once said of him: "he's like a light bulb without the glass, just the filament, burning on and off".

Some of these "legends" of popular music are healthy and alert and on their game, others are just living their intensely public lives with problematic personal demons that will see them to their graves.

How's Bob Weir doing these days anyway?

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I understand his past situation, his extremely fragile nature and of course I know the music inside and out.

LR- you might just be that if you can't listen to Pet Sounds and understand how that album changed EVERYTHING.

That all being said, that was a stinker last night. I'd rather see a cover band play those songs well, than the original artist just go through the motions (no pun there). The wind was not helping as it was blowing from the crowd to the stage and beyond- and the sound was wavering quite significantly.

And those bugs that started coming out while he got started were too much to bear. I left right after Wouldn't It Be Nice, hit the pavement on my bike and was home in no time.

Manx/ Breit did not disappoint with the Voodoo Chile opener, Springsteens I'm on Fire, and that amazing lap acoustic guitar of Harrys with those drone strings (thanks Bradm for explaining it) that sounded somewhere in between a sitar and a harp.

Calexico was awesome, but the stage was the opposite direction as BW's and I found the sound way too loud especially from the horns as the wind blew the sound right at us. And I rarely think anything is too loud (except Big Sugar and Govt Mule).



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