Brian Wilson Backyard, Oct. 24

Live Shots

Live Shots
Photo By Gary Miller

Brian Wilson Backyard, Oct. 24

Before Brian Wilson's new recording of Smile came out last month, those who'd seen him already could be forgiven for thinking they didn't need to return. Wilson's Pet Sounds tour of 2000 was miraculous simply because no one expected to see the former Beach Boy perform live (austinchronicle.com/issues/dispatch/2000-08-04/music_live4.html ). Although Wilson's voice was in extra-ragged shape Sunday night, the show itself proved considerably more enjoyable than the Pet Sounds performance, also at the Backyard. Having now played together for years, Wilson's band of pinch hitters is a stronger unit with more latitude to enjoy themselves. They began acoustic, with "Surfer Girl," before Wilson jokingly led the muddy crowd in a few rounds of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." After playing a few obscure acoustic gems like "And Your Dream Comes True" and "Drive In," they turned on the juice with "Sloop John B." Wilson struggled on "Don't Worry Baby" and "God Only Knows," but garnered a standing ovation after the latter for having written it. After closing the first set with a rocking "Marcella," the Stockholm Strings and Horns joined the band to perform Smile. The album is a highly conceptualized musical journey with all sorts of endearing nooks that come out over repeated listenings. Hearing it live with the composer performing was a privilege, but Wilson maintained levity by beating on the mike with a zucchini during "Vega-Tables" and having the strings and horns don the requisite fireman hats for "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow." After a resounding "Good Vibrations" ended Smile, the band kept the audience standing for Beach Boys classics like "Fun, Fun, Fun" and "Surfin' U.S.A." before ending with Wilson's poignant "Love and Mercy." Whatever bad notes Wilson hit, the seat-of-your-pants exhilaration of this show ultimately made them inconsequential.

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