Beach Boy Brian Wilson is one of greatest songwriters that the pop world has thrown up. And their 1966 album Pet-Sounds is widely recognized as being one of the greatest pop albums ever made. So when Brian Wilson walked rather unsteadily to his keyboard at London's Royal Albert Hall to perform the album in its entirety it promised to be one of the extraordinary moments in pop history because it was said this would be the last time he would ever play the album live.
Pet Sounds has an amazing history. It was fifty years ago that it was released and Wilson, now an astonishing 75, was so mesmerized by the progressive revolutionary direction that The Beatles were embracing with their ground-breaking Rubber Soul album he was determined to produce and even better album than that - In fact he wanted to make the greatest album at all time.
Brian Wilson in 1996 still going strong 30 years after the release of Pet Sounds
Because of its incredibly advanced studio production Pet Sounds is a difficult album to play live. But Wilson and his accomplished 10 piece band, which included original Beach Boy stalwart Al Jardine, gave it a great shot and its key songs including "Wouldn't It Be Nice", "Sloop John B ", and "God Only Knows", produced good vibrations among the Royal Albert Hall audience who had come to pay homage to the Californian legend.
Watching Brian Wilson is an unsettling experience because of the air of detachment about him. In fact, it is a miracle he can compose such songs of majesty and beauty. He is deaf in one ear, has experienced voices in his head for most of his life, was plagued by mental disorders and veered off course for thirty years into a period of mental problems, LSD experimentation and nervous breakdowns.
Pet Sounds marked a huge change in a Beach Boys direction as it was waves away from the fun songs about hot rods, surfing and California girls that had catapulted the band onto the world stage.
It would have been too an intensive experience for Wilson to have just performed this album solely so the concert was bookended by all the happy, frothy songs in the Beach Boys canon with the audience being treated to such pop gems as I Get Around, Fun, Fun, Fun, California Girls, Little Deuce Coupe and Help Me Rhonda
Added to this were such Beach Boys masterpieces, Heroes and Villains and Good Vibrations.
The only bad vibration of the evening was the price of the tickets - my seat cost £150 and that must have been the only reason there were a number of empty seats littered throughout the venue.
And that was a shame because this was a concert that anyone interested in the magic of pop and its unique and amazing history should have had on their bucket list. You will never experience anything of its kind again.
By Rick Sky
tagged in Brian Wilson