Monday, September 12, 2016

I KNOW I WAS THERE BECAUSE I HAVE THE MOSQUITO BITES TO PROVE IT

No introduction. He didn't need one. He and his band simply walked on the stage.

He slumped at the piano, overweight and far from the kid who created The California Sound.

It didn't matter. Within seconds, everyone in the St. Augustine Amphitheater wished "they all could be California girls."

He turned over vocal duties to the bandmate at his side, from-the-beginning Beach Boy Al Jardine.

A few songs from Al and then he said, This is the first song I ever wrote. I was nineteen years old.

Al's son, Matt Jardine, sang, "Do you love me, do you surfer girl?"

My son shouted in my ear, That guy has a great fuckin' voice. (The fruit doesn't fall very far from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.)

It was true. Matt Jardine carried the vocals for the evening, backing up other singers or picking up in the middle of a line when Brian Wilson, seventy-four years old, reached the falsetto part that he once sang like an angel.

Matt Jardine would have and could have been the star of the show, but he was on the stage with the man who wrote the songs, the man who arranged the songs, the man who produced the recording sessions with a precision that defies my comprehension.

It's the Fiftieth Anniversary Tour of Pet Sounds, the album The Beatles admired so much that they responded with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Several songs in, Brian said, Now we're going to do Pet Sounds.

And they did. One song after another, with the exception of the pet sounds, but it's not exactly a song. Following God Only Knows (Our Song, meaning Willy Dunne Wooters and me), a standing ovation led Brian to say, Thank you for the applause. Please be seated.

Through the album they went, until he said, This is the last song from Pet Sounds.

I mouthed Caroline No.

Good Vibrations followed the Pet Sounds, but the night wasn't over.

They sang one much-loved song after another, until my throat hurt from begging Rhonda to "help me get her out of my heart."

Brian Wilson didn't sing much, and when he did, often it was more talk singing. He stayed behind the piano that he didn't touch often. Sometimes he swiped his hand across his forehead because it's September in Florida and it's hot and humid. Once he raised his hands as if to conduct the excellent, excellent musicians. He started the audience clapping along to one song.

No, he doesn't do a lot, but he doesn't have to and doesn't need to because he is Brian Wilson presenting the work of a lifetime.

About an hour and forty-five minutes in, he sang Love and Mercy and left the stage the second he reached the beginning of the final note. The others wandered off the stage. As we shuffled out of the amphitheater I could see Al Jardine still talking to people in the audience.

It lasted forever, yet it ended in a flash.


I didn't record these videos, and they're not from the St. Augustine concert. The guy in the back who sings so beautifully is Matt Jardine. His father, Al Jardine, is next to Brian at the piano.





63 comments:

  1. I love God Only Knows and would have loved hearing it live,

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    1. It was a once in a lifetime experience, Anne.

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  2. Sounds like a great concert. Glad you made it and enjoyed it. :)

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  3. One of my favourite bands of all time. I've got most of the albums, and even used to attend surfing parties in central London back in the 60's (don't ask).

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    1. Surfing parties--okay, I won't ask. Instead I'll say, I bet that was a lot of fun.

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  4. Hi Janie - sounds like a great Tour to be a part of ... even being in the audience. Amazing they are still able to perform ... but looks like Matt Jardine held everyone together and let the group do their thing ... wonderful - despite the mozzie bites ... cheers Hilary

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    1. The bites will heal. Their sound will always be in my head.

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  5. What a wonderful concert, when the past memories mix with the present fact and makes both truly touching! Well done!

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    1. Thank you. I feel blessed to have been there.

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  6. That had to be an awesome concert! I was just listening to the video of Love and Mercy on your other post and was surprised by Brian Wilson's voice. I hadn't heard him sing in quite awhile.

    Those all are the songs of my youth and bring back great memories. It's daunting to see groups do 50th Anniversary tours and realize I've been around for their whole careers. That too, has gone by in a flash.

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    1. It's wild to get to see someone whose music I grew up on. It was almost as exciting as when I saw Paul McCartney. I only say "almost" because Paul was my first really big concert, and he put on quite a show. It was when Linda was still alive. Fourth of July in RFK Stadium.

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  7. How wonderful to have been there. You give me goosebumps.

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  8. What a fun time you must have had! I love a good amphitheater! Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Great review!!

    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. Thank you. It was so exciting when they walked on the stage.

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  9. Brian Wilson is a genius. Pet Sounds is an incredible piece of work.

    Hard to believe someone as old as I am has been listening to him since I was a child.

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    1. My son commented on how crisp the sound was. The St. Augustine Amphitheater is a great venue. Brian says that after this tour he won't perform Pet Sounds anymore, so we couldn't miss it.

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  10. Good to catch 'em while they're still able to tour. This weekend I happened to tune into a PBS station where they were broadcasting a concert from the 1980's. I was very impressed about how good they really were. That was one heck of a show. They might be a bit grayer and slower now, but I'm sure they still have the musical chops.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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    1. We thought it might be our only opportunity to see Brian in person.

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  11. My first concert was a plethora of hair bands, White Snake, White Lion, and Poison. I feel as if I wasted my youth and could have done so much better. ;p

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    1. That's funny. Youth is wasted on the young.

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  12. I've only seen the latest concerts on TV. I envy you the live performance. I still have my mono LP of Surfin Safari given to me by my 8th grade girlfriend.

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    1. I adore Pet Sounds, but singing along to the older songs was so much fun, too.

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  13. I envy you being able to see these performers live.

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  14. I was a California Girl for the first three months of my life. Put some Windex on those mosquito bites.

    -andi

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    1. I am so jealous that you are a grandma.

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    2. HA! "Windex"... that cracked me up. I use that line a lot, too!

      ~ D'plorable D-FensDogG

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  15. Still great after all these years!!

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    1. Brian put together the perfect group of performers, just as he always has.

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  16. So glad you had the ability to see them and enjoy every moment. It's hard for me to think these guys are all in the 70's now. As for mosquito bites, if you are allergic like my hubby is, get some steroid cream from the drug store and an antihistamine. if not too bad, use some corn starch and a little water to make a paste and put that on-it helps

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    1. I have prescription strength cream because I have such sensitive skin, but thanks for the suggestions. I'll be fine. I didn't take my eyes off the stage for a second.

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  17. Replies
    1. You're right about that. It's difficult to believe everything he lived through, but I know it's true.

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  18. Seventy-four years old... and still going strong. Good to hear you had a great time, Janie.

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    1. Thank you, Blue Boo. It was the best of nights.

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  19. What a fun evening, and so happy you enjoyed yourself!

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  20. I havent been here for a while...apologies......i had forgotton just how well,you write x

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  21. Oh how cool except for the mossie bites you could do without those

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  22. Sounds like an awesome concert. It would've been neat to be a member of that audience. I'm glad you were there to experience it. :)

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    1. I'm especially glad I was there with my son, who has a unique appreciation of music.

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  23. The music will outlive him and probably all of us. You must have a wonderful time.

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  24. Very moving piece, and I don't even like the Beachboys.

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    1. It wasn't the Beach Boys really. It was Brian Wilson. Brian, Al, and Mike Love are the three remaining Beach Boys. Brian's brothers have died. I think Brian and Mike stay away from each other. I believe Mike tours with a band as The Beach Boys. They can't possibly compare to Brian, who was always the genius of the group.

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  25. So much fun. My husband can't stand them, but I really liked the Beach Boys when I was young.

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    1. Brian is so much more than The Beach Boys. The others didn't believe in Pet Sounds.

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  26. LOVE JANIE ~
    I'm a huge Beach Boys fan. Have been since my youth. I was once asked to choose my favorite between The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. My answer was: The Beach Boys.

    I'd still like to see a Beach Boys concert someday. If they ever come to Reno, I'm ON IT!

    ~ D'plorable D-FensDogG

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    1. Beware: You probably don't want to see The Beach Boys--that's Mike Love. You want to see Brain Wilson.

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  27. Janie, WOW, that had to be an amazing experience and a lot of fun!

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  28. I'd like to see BOTH, Brain Wilson AND Mike Love. I think Al Jardine normally tours with Mike as the Beach Boys. Not at the moment, I s'pose, because of this special limited tour with Brain.

    ~ D-FensDogG

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  29. Wow! You got to see the last of something so special.

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