Brian Wilson- Pet Sounds Edinburgh Usher Hall May 26 2016
A grey, miserable and rain-soaked Thursday night in late May in Edinburgh could not be further removed from the sun drenched rays of California and the sunshine harmonies and celestial melodies of Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys. However the two came together for an evening where the main architect of the classic album ‘Pet Sounds’-which has its 50th anniversary next month- performed his acclaimed masterpiece in its entirety on a tour he has claimed is the last time he will perform it in this way and possibly at the age of 73 and in frail health will likely be his last major tour.
It is hard top believe now considering its exalted status as one of the all time great albums that ‘Pet Sounds’ was largely ignored on its original release baffling the public with its darker themes of heartache and loss as opposed to the happy-go-lucky surfer sounds their audience thought would last forever on a never-ending cycle of fun, fun ,fun!
However time has revealed an album of infinite depth and it stands tall amongst the game changing works of The Beatles and Bob Dylan-‘Revolver’ and ‘Blonde on Blonde’ respectively- also from the extremely fertile year of 1966.
To whet our appetites though Wilson and his band ran through an extremely palatable selection of some of his greatest hits opening with Heroes and Villains and including California Girls, Do It Again, In My Room, Don’t Worry Baby and numerous others. It became obvious quite early on that Wilson’s once angelic voice has been ravaged somewhat by time but the son of fellow founder Beach Boy Al Jardine- also Wilson’s right hand man on stage- Matthew Jardine more than adequately handled the higher notes allowing the songs to soar to the expected and unexpected heights.
The second half though was what most of the audience were here for and the euphoric opening lines of Wouldn’t It Be Nice opened the set to rapturous applause and something approaching reverence. Don’t Cry Put Your Head On My Shoulder, God Only Knows and I Guess I Wasn’t Made for These Times were standouts but in truth every song hit the spot with Wilson making no changes to the original arrangements. I mean after all why would he when they were already impeccable?
The album delivered to anticipated expectations Wilson and his band left the stage but there was no way Edinburgh was going to let him leave the city boundaries without delivering Good Vibrations and he didn’t disappoint by coming back on and launching into this slice of celestial, space age pop perfection that sounds as weird, beautiful and unlike anything else ever as it probably did in 1967.
After this with the audience in his hand he shifted things up a few notches even more with Fun, Fun, Fun, Barbra Ann, Surfin’ USA and a Help Me Rhonda which just about lifted the beautifully gilded roof of the Usher Hall into a different orbit.
By the end of the night all thoughts of the rain outside had dissipated and the smiles apparent on just about every audience member created enough sunshine vibes to make up for the lack of compatible summer weather to marry to the music. In the end the sheer vibrancy of the night , quality of the music and being in the presence of a living legend- in a year when so many heroes and icons have passed- more than made up for any shortcomings the weather failed to deliver. Joyous is the only word to describe the evening!

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