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Electric Picnic 09 - Brian Wilson

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ATL | 14:35 UK time, Sunday, 6 September 2009

Main Stage, Saturday 5th September, 8:50pm

Brian WilsonWe're clutching at straws to have our Beach Boys experience, but we're gonna have it whether Brian Wilson knows it or not. Anybody who has seen recent footage of the legend will understand what I mean. He's physically sitting there - arms dangling, bemused expression - but you soon realise it's a bit of a puppet show.

Behind Mr. Wilson is an incredible band. All eleven of them! And it's these guys who are really pulling it off. In particular Wilsons right hand man, Jeff Foskett. As well as being the main singer for much of the set, Foskett also 'filled in' for Wilson when he just seemed to give up the ghost half way through lines.

Watching Wilson sit there, like somebody abandoned him on stage, is a strange experience. Deep down you know it's kinda wrong, but it's too much fun to really care. Stationed behind a keyboard that's just a prop, it becomes a highlight to see the man raise his arms above waist level. That's when he's really into it!

The thing is though, that despite all that, this gig is brilliant. The band replicate the classic Beach Boys sound and play all the tunes you've known all your life - Then I Kissed Her, Don't Worry Baby, Little Deuce Coupe, California Girls, Sloop John B, Wouldn't It Be Nice, God Only Knows and Good Vibrations.

They just keep them coming. But it was the "Rock n' Roll" encore that made the crowd erupt.
The cheers as Jeff started the guitar riff of Johnny B Good were followed by a field of people singing Help Me Rhonda. Then the unthinkable happened. Brian Wilson not only played guitar, but he played it standing up for Barbra Ann! And then surf moves ahoy for Surfing USA which, naturally, had the whole crowd singing.

There's been a lot said already about whether he should be gigging at all. The fact is, it's not really him, but its as close as we'll ever get and those songs need to live on.

Describe in a Tweet: The best tribute to the Beach Boys on this planet.

Good Vibrations: The first time I've ever heard a festival crowd sound good harmonising.

Life's a Beach: Feeling torn between depression and delight seeing Brian Wilson looking lost on stage and programmed to play the hits.

EP Rating: 8/10

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