Brian Wilson emerged from a long hibernation at the start of the last decade to play Pet Sounds in full. Now the dream of an album that he wrote for The Beach Boys, the peak for a songwriting giant who crumbled soon afterwards, is 50 so he’s doing it again.
The nostalgia industry around The Beach Boys remains lucrative, with albums old and new to celebrate, a recent biopic and shifting line-ups offering renewed appeal. This tour has gained original member Al Jardine, his son Matt, who ably handled the high notes, and a Beach Boy from the early Seventies, Blondie Chaplin.
Chaplin, who has also been a Rolling Stone, behaved as though he was the main attraction of a completely different band when he strutted on for three songs. He plastered Wild Honey with bludgeoning guitar solos while Wilson sat mute in the shadows.
In stark contrast, the mentally frail Wilson has suffered from lumpen stage presence since his unexpected revival. Unlike Jardine, his singing voice is not what it was and he shouted between songs, at one point bellowing over a Jardine introduction to announce something completely different.
However, that obvious vulnerability was made more poignant by the Pet Sounds songs and their desperately sad innocence. “I guess I just wasn’t made for these times,” he sang, which is still true, but we can be grateful he exists in them at all.