Concert Review: Brian Wilson & Jeff Beck, October 26, Sony Centre

brian wilson jeff beck

If you were to create a Venn Diagram involving Brian Wilson fans and fans of Jeff Beck, I suspect that there wouldn’t be too many commonalities.  In fact, if it was announced that Beck were instead touring with LA Dodgers relief pitcher Brian Wilson, it would not have seemed like that much more of an unusual tour. Sure, both Wilson and Beck fall under the broad umbrella of “classic rock,” but other than the fact that both are talented musicians, the intricately arranged pop of the former doesn’t necessarily appeal to a fan of the latter’s bluesy/jazz fusion-y guitar heroics and vice versa.  Yet each performer brought their own dedicated fanbase out for the night and each put on impressive sets with their respective bands while occasionally collaborating together throughout the night.

Early on in Wilson’s set, Al Jardine had to correct himself while introducing a medley of “Old Man River” and “Cottonfields.”  “This is on our – here I go again – this is on a 6 CD box set by The Beach Boys.”  Of course he had to stop himself because while he, Wilson, and guitarist David Marks are Beach Boys and many in Wilson’s 12 piece band played on the recent Beach Boys 50th anniversary tour, they are not officially THE Beach Boys.  This is of course due to Mike Love owning the rights to the band name and Love having no interest in touring with his former bandmates at the moment.  Like Love’s current touring version of The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson also makes use of ringers in the form of younger bandmates taking the lead on several songs, most notably Jeff Foskett, who handled most of the falsetto parts.  However, unlike Love’s Beach Boys, Wilson and band are willing to go a little deeper than the obvious oldies radio staples, delivering solid renditions of classics like “Little Bird” and “Heroes And Villains.”  And they also played all the obvious oldies radio staples because of course people want to hear “Help me Rhonda” and “I Get Around” too.

While Wilson’s vocals may not be what they once were, he still took the lead on several songs, with “God Only Knows” (introduced by Wilson as “probably the best song I ever wrote”) standing out as particularly impressive.  Though his other bandmates often took the lead, when he did speak, Wilson’s stage banter was often somewhat amusing, though likely unintentionally so.  “Here’s a nice little love song.  It’s got intimate lyrics, so listen for ‘em.”   Compared to Jeff Beck though, Wilson was positively chatty.  Beck’s banter was mostly of the “How you all doing?” and “You still with us?” variety, which is fine.  Obviously, he preferred to let his fingers mostly do the talking for him.

While I didn’t necessarily count myself as a fan of Jeff Beck before this show, I certainly have a greater appreciation for what he does after seeing him play and one thing is for sure – Beck knows a thing or two about playing guitar.  At times, he got some pretty impressive sounds out of that thing.  I do have to say though that a full set of what amounts to essentially one long guitar solo would have been a bit taxing. Luckily he mixed it up by giving his bandmates time to shine with some violin and bass solos and later invited Wilson and his band back out on stage to collaborate on some Beach Boys numbers incuding “Surf’s Up.” Beck also offered up a midset video of himself driving around in and working on a bunch of vintage cars from his collection to which he and the band provided the soundtrack.  It seemed a bit self indulgent perhaps, but the cars did look pretty cool and if I had cars like that and a platform in which to show them off, I guess I’d do the same.

To close things out, both bands returned to the stage for a joint encore which ended in Beck leading the group through a mournful rendition of “Danny Boy.” All things considered, while the combination of Brian Wilson and Jeff Beck may have been an odd pairing, it made for a solid night of music.

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Posted on by Paul in Concerts

One Response to Concert Review: Brian Wilson & Jeff Beck, October 26, Sony Centre

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