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Brian Wilson Presents Pet Sounds Live In London (DVD) Review

Live. Released 2003.  

BBC Review

Grown men turned back to boys again and Brian Wilson's genius was reconfirmed in...

Adam Webb 2003

For many, Brian Wilson's UK concerts in 2002 were some of the most astonishing in living memory. Once written off with near-permanent brain damage Wilson's mere presence anywhere near a stage was remarkable enough (anybody who witnessed his hulking 300lb figure in the late 1970s would be surprised he was appearing anywhere). That he was also billed to play Pet Sounds in its entirety had ticketholders pinching themselves in disbelief. Perhaps this was all some cruel hoax? Perhaps we were dreaming?

The evidence on this DVD proves we were not. Its all here: Brian Wilson! In London! Pet Sounds from beginning to end with a little number called ''Good Vibrations'' thrown in for the encore. Those miraculous nights did happen after all.

Drawn from January and July concerts, Wilson is in fine form throughout. His voice may have dipped a couple of octaves but, like a seasoned pro, he works to the best of his resources. His extensive backing band several Wondermints along with stalwarts like Jeffrey Foskett and Andy Paley - have the unenviable task of recreating the unrecreatable. Astonishingly they succeed. Perhaps the greatest studio album ever made is brought living and breathing to life.

Every piece of Wilson's masterwork is reverentially placed back together. The bicycle bells on ''You Still Believe In Me'', that strange underwater guitar on ''Pet Sounds'', the forlorn soundtrack of barking dogs and passing trains that concludes ''Caroline, No''. ''Let's Go Away For Awhile'' retains its elusively unhummable melody while the opening bars to ''God Only Knows'' bring audience members to tears. Rather than being denigrated, the legend emerges enhanced perhaps even more powerful and poignant in this new context. Over a generation later and these songs still retain their magic.

''Brian Wilson was the voice in the teenage dark when we got laid for the first time, fell in love, got confused and hurt'', wrote ex-Stones svengali Andrew Loog Oldham in his autobiography 2Stoned. ''[He] gave us space to repair ourselves and grow from boys to men...'' On these special nights this was certainly the case. Grown men turned back to boys again and Brian Wilson's genius was reconfirmed in excelsius. Truly, a miracle...

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