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Brian Wilson and Jeff Beck

by Paul Rapp on October 9, 2013 · 6 comments



There are some shows one just does not miss. And if this sounds like an odd pairing, well, it was. And it was magical in all sorts of ways.

First up: Brian Wilson, or rather 11 musicians performing a tribute to Brian Wilson with Brian Wilson in attendance. Opening softly with an ethereal 10 voice a cappella version of the Four Freshmen’s “Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring,” the set made a compelling case that Wilson is in the pantheon of great American composers/arrangers, alongside Copeland, Bernstein, Rodgers, etc. Or would have been had he kept it together. Which, obviously and famously, he didn’t. There’s something both disconcerting and bittersweet about watching this obviously damaged genius be a near non-participant in his own performance. But no matter. Until the orchestral ensemble (augmented with original Beach Boys Al Jardine and David Marks, who both sparkled) devolved into running through the thumpy and treacly early Beach Boys hits to close the set, we were treated to an odd and adventurous set full of beauty and wonder. The 1-2 punch of “Heroes and Villains” and “God Only Knows” (which Wilson mumbled was “my greatest achievement as a songwriter”) was simply devastating.

And then it was hello, Jeff Beck. Yowsa. With monsto-drummer Jonathan Joseph and former Prince bassist Rhonda Smith in tow, the band opened with Billy Cobham’s “Stratus” and raged through a set of raw funk-fusion that was jaw-dropping. Do hipsters know about this kind of music? I think not. Damn. Beck’s guitar was, as always, totally loud and in yer face, which was refreshing given that Brian Wilson’s sound mix was . . . well, shall we say it was appropriate for a PBS fundraiser?  The set was loose and Beck was on fire. Crazy brilliant. Effortless. No one plays with more humanity, playfulness or passion. I can almost forgive him for breaking up the second Jeff Beck Group back in ’72. Bastard.

And then the bands merged. It kind of worked. First they played what I’m guessing were tunes from Wilson’s upcoming album: slow, bluesy numbers with Beck soloing furiously and the Wilson camp adding all sorts of 4-5 party-harmony oohs and aahs in the background. The back-screen showed lots of sun-soaked church windows, which was about right. Then a gloriously sloppy take on the Delta blues classic “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” straight out of one of those 2 AM blues jams in a corner bar, back when we all used to drink. What? Then Beck’s unnecessary but crowd-pleasing version of “A Day In The Life,” and a couple more stupid Beach Boys songs (blown up by hysterically inappropriate Beck solos).

Then “Danny Boy.” Freakin’ Danny Boy. As beautiful as anything you’ve ever heard. Nite.


Bill October 10, 2013 at 11:29 am

There were no new songs played (which is kinda unfortunatel). The “churching us up” songs with the stained glass window backdrop were Our Prayer and Child is Father of the Man from the Beach Boys.

Here’s the full setlist.

Set 1 – The Beach Boys
Their Hearts Were Full of Spring (The Four Freshmen, a capella)
California Girls
Do It Again
Then I Kissed Her (The Crystals)
Don’t Worry Baby
Little Bird
Old Man River (Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein)
Cottonfields (Lead Belly)
Til I Die
Heroes and Villains
Sail On, Sailor
Pet Sounds
God Only Knows
Wouldn’t It Be Nice
Sloop John B
Good Vibrations
Help Me Rhonda
I Get Around
Fun, Fun, Fun

Set 2 – Jeff Beck
Eternity’s Breath (Mahavishnu Orchestra)
Stratus (Billy Cobham)
Even Odds
You Know You Know (Mahavishnu Orchestra)
The Pump
Little Wing
You Never Know
Where Were You
Big Block

Set 3 – Combined
Our Prayer (Beach Boys)
Child is Father of the Man (Beach Boys)
Surf’s Up (Beach Boys)
Goodbye Pork Pie Hat (Charles Mingus)
How High the Moon (Nancy Hamilton/Morgan Lewis)
Rollin’ and Tumblin’ (Muddy Waters)
A Day in the Life (Beatles)

Encore – Combined
Barbara Ann (Beach Boys)
Surfin’ USA (Beach Boys)
Danny Boy (traditional)

Eldritch Moron October 10, 2013 at 2:07 pm

“Danny Boy” was recorded for the upcoming album.

Carl W. October 14, 2013 at 9:41 am

I’m not sure what show this biased ‘reviewer’ was watching, but boy did he get it wrong! Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, David Marks, and Brian’s exceptional band blew the boring, arrogant Jeff Beck off of the stage. Why would someone with such a LONG career come out and play crap that most people didn’t even know? I was so bored, I had to leave. No joke. I walked out. No yardbirds songs, no Freeway Jam, no blues standards that he did with Rod the Mod, nothing. Just boring, unknown instrumentals that would have put me to sleep if they weren’t so loud.

I am sorry I missed the encores, but I could not sit through another minute of Jeff Beck and his competent, yet boring band.

Carl W. October 14, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Stupid Beach Boy songs?


Anyone who does not understand the genius of Brian Wilson is too stupid to be calling him stupid.

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