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.