Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys bottled the sound of youthful exuberance and adolescent longing six decades ago, and it still tasted bittersweet at this 50th anniversary celebration of the peerless Pet Sounds album.
Brian Wilson presents Pet Sounds | Usher Hall, Edinburgh | Rating ****
Wilson led haltingly from the grand piano, backed by a nine-piece band, including original Beach Boy Al Jardine, whose son Matt was also on hand to provide the signature Beach Boys falsetto – although any bandmate not wrapping his lips around a reed was pressed into vocal service to occasionally spine-tingling effect, as on the heavenly harmonies of opening a capella Our Prayer and the tender doo wop dream of In My Room and Surfer Girl.
Later, they were joined by special guest Blondie Chaplin, veteran of The Beach Boys early 1970s line-up, who brought a low-slung attitude, rootsy tone and energetic dynamic to the stage.
The second half of the concert was given over to Pet Sounds, performed in sequence and undeniably powerful in unexpected ways, Wilson’s obvious frailty lending a moving pathos to his shaky, plaintive rendition of God Only Knows.
The album’s evergreen mix of some of the most heartfelt, vulnerable ballads ever written and exotic, inventively arranged pop symphonies such as I’m Waiting For The Day remains rapturous, while the encore of Good Vibrations followed by a bumper medley of ecstatic surfer hits prolonged the high.
Having begun with a prayer, Wilson and co ended with a benediction, anointing the audience with Love And Mercy. Truly, we were blessed.