GIG: Pet Sounds Vs Sgt Pepper – The Brighton Beach Boys
DATE: Saturday 22nd May 2010
VENUE: St George’s Church, St George’s Road, Kemp Town, Brighton
COST: £15
RATING: Pet Sounds Vs Sgt Pepper? No contest


We set off for Brighton early afternoon, in glorious sunshine, which meant the car rooftop was down and the summery sounds of The Beach Boys were blaring from the car stereo all of the way. Arriving with loads of time to spare, the gorgeous sunshiny weather beckoned us to Brighton Pier and ice-cream! As we wandered down the pier (coincidently playing the Beatles the whole time we were there) we wondered if the clash of “Pet Sounds” versus “Sgt Pepper” would be anything like the clashes of Mods and Rockers from days gone by!

Having seen Brian Wilson and his band perform “Pet Sounds” in its entirety many times we really did not know what to expect from the Brighton Beach Boys, other than that is had the potential to be a great show, given the fact that they have been doing this show from time to time over the last 5 years. At around 7.30ish we arrived at St George’s Church with our friends Ashley & Paul and we were guided to the balcony area, with a great view straight on to the stage. Immediately we could sense we were in for a good show, given the multitude of instruments set up, ready for the guys to play. (And Jesus, who may be bigger than The Beatles, was looking down on things.)

The Brighton Beach Boys took to the stage, and opened with a bit of a teaser – the Beach Boys song “California Girls” and the Beatles song “Eleanor Rigby”. “Eleanor Rigby” really stood out with the string quintet really complementing the 5 band members who harmonised so well for this song. Minty is not the biggest of Beatles fan but even she had her appetite whetted for more Beatles.

But the Beatles had to wait, as “Pet Sounds” started. We won’t give a song by song account, but focus on what were the highlights for us. Immediately, the drums made the whole showcase of this album being played on stage, in much the same way as Jimmy Hines played the drums when Brian Wilson did his Pet Sounds tours. The drummer, Theseus Gerrard pounded his drum-kit with so much passion which made the first song “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” set the tone for the rest of the evening. The next track on the album is “You Still Believe In Me” and for the intro to this one, two of the band members plucked the strings of the grand piano. It was during this song that we noticed that the band layout was not dissimilar to Brian Wilson’s band, in that a percussionist was there beside the drummer, and he also beeped the bicycle horn at the right time!

The first instrumental track “Let’s Go Away For Awhile” was astounding, and once again, the drummer was exceptional. “God Only Knows” was slightly unusual in that the drummer did handclaps to keep the beat, which actually worked really well and for “I Know There’s An Answer” the chorus was from “Hang Onto Your Ego”. What worked on that song was that the bass harmonica was played along with the saxophone (something not done with Brian Wilson’s band as the same guy plays both!). The second instrumental and title track “Pet Sounds” was really outstanding, and included the “drum off” between the drummer and the percussionist and resulted in massive cheers from the audience.

The second half of the show started with a brief instruction on audience participation, where the previous drummer (now switched to maracas and tambourine, whilst another band member sat on the drum stool and pounded the drums) held up placards to instruct the audience on what to do at the appropriate times – “Cheer,” “Laugh,” “Scream,” after which they launched into the title track “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. Ralph Brown took to the mic for “With A Little Help From My Friends” and “She’s Leaving Home” which had the most glorious harmonies and fantastic strings. The great thing about Ralph, thespian that he is.. he acted out all the songs he sang with a passion.

“Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite!” gave the band an opportunity to don circus masks, and the guy who took the lead vocal wore a Top Hat. Theseus took control of the Sgt Pepper drum and paraded up and down the aisles beating the bass drum with the Sgt Pepper logo on it!

Ralph Brown took lead vocal again for “Within You Without You” and with the sitar on stage, it sounded great, and got the massive applause it richly deserved. Everyone in the audience sang along to “When I’m Sixty-Four,” featuring an excellently timed hammer on a pipe. By the time the last notes of the Sgt Pepper album had died down and the band left the stage, the audience were on their feet demanding more.

Obliging, The Brighton Beach Boys came back to satisfy their audience demands, and their encore was “Penny Lane”, “Strawberry Fields Forever”, Good Vibrations,” (that really got EVERYONE up dancing,) “All You Need Is Love” and then the finale to send everyone home “Love & Mercy” in true Brian Wilson style. The string arrangement at the end caught us out when it then went seamlessly into The Beatles “Goodnight” from the White Album for a final, and most appropriate verse, “Goodnight everybody, everybody everywhere…goodnight.”

To sum up this gig, other than putting it down as one of the highlights of 2010 so far, the band obviously enjoyed every second they had on stage, and their enthusiasm and love of the music filtered through to everyone in the audience. They constantly changed set up, playing different instruments as needed – indeed Ralph Brown went from keyboards to glockenspiel to saxophone and back again!

We were really taken by the drummer on the Pet Sounds section, Theseus who not only pounded the drums with as much passion as Dennis Wilson used to, but during the 2nd half, armed with just maracas and a tambourine, really stood out with his dancing around the stage with a mixture of Bez from Happy Mondays and Lee Evans and still kept perfect time!!! Even on Pet Sounds, he seemed to direct the traffic and just firmed up our belief that if you have a strong drummer on Pet Sounds, the rest falls into place. He was the most entertaining drummer The Beeb has seen since Ray Cooper played with Eric Clapton and an orchestra at the Royal Albert hall 20 years ago!
The piano player, Glenn Richardson really stood out vocally, adding great harmonies and the lead on Good Vibrations was excellent.

If you get the chance to see this show, take it. The band mentioned they had been doing this for the last 5 years and now thinking of moving on to cover other albums (we suggested Odessey & Oracle”!!!) so the chances are diminishing.

So, “Pet Sounds” or “Sgt Pepper.” Who won? Easy answer… the audience!
Nice one guys – thoroughly enjoyed it.

And the usual round up about the loos! Clean, but a bit out of the way!


  1. What about another BB v Beatles contest. Sunflower vs Revolver anyone??

  2. Best to listen when the whole album in one track. Here is the link: