Boston, Mass. — It’s obviously that Brian Wilson is a 66 year old man. His voice isn’t what it once was, but his talent has never waned over his career, and expectations were not for a masterful performance Wednesday night in Boston, but for a celebration of his life and career as the greatest American pop songwriter.
Wilson wobbled on stage and took his seat behind a keyboard that he would never play. After a jovial hello, Brian and his ten-piece band, who did most of the heavy lifting throughout the show, launched into a 45-minute set of Beach Boys and solo hits. The opening bars of “California Girls” immediately warmed a cold night while “God Only Knows” and “Good Vibrations” pleased those who were looking for a trip down memory lane. The energy and playing from the band was great but the set list lacked any real flow besides fast and slow songs bunched together with random banter in between songs. The elderly crowd enjoyed the first set and every got up a could times to dance awkwardly. After a brief intermission, the band returned to perform That Lucky Old Sun in its entirety. This was clearly the highlight of the show, displaying all player’s musical talents and the great lyrical abilities of Wilson. Songs like “Midnight’s Another Day,” and “Going Home” climaxed the set and displayed how more powerful a simple arrangement can be interpreted in a live venue.
Wilson and the band came back once again for a 20-minute encore that included more hits like “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “Johnny B. Goode,” and eventually finishing with “Love and Mercy.” What I really took away from the evening was just the sheer volume of great songs Brian has written over his career and the amazing ability of his backing band to bring the complex arrangements to life. The harmonies soared, the guitars surfed and I left feeling completely inadquit as a wannabe songwriter/performer. This might be the last go-around for Wilson so I highly recommend seeing him at all costs or at least picking up his latest release.