GIG : Brian Wilson
Venue :  Royal Festival Hall, London
Date : Saturday 17th September 2011
Cost : £55 (no booking fee)
Our Verdict : Rhapsody In London

After such a great start to the London 3 night residency  yesterday, we hoped that Brian Wilson would keep the momentum going. We were not disappointed.

Tonight the big man was on fire. He really seemed to enjoy himself, and kept smiling throughout.  Again, the night started with ‘Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin’ all the way through. Once again, “”They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and “I Got Rhythm” got the audience all fired up and got a real rapturous applause. The latters’ segue into the “Farmers Daughter" type harmony was spot on, and the band sounded fantastic.

Brian seemed to really like “I Loves You Porgy”, “’S Wonderful” and “It Aint Necessarily So” if his face was any barometer of how good he thought things were (we would agree).  “I Got Plenty o' Nuttin’” is really growing on us, and tonight, from the side of the auditorium where our seats were, we had the chance to see Probyn’s banjo playing. Disappointingly, the Bass Harmonica on this one didn’t come through as strongly as other performances.

During “Someone to Watch Over Me”, The Beeb sat with his eyes shut and basked in the sweet sound that was Brian Wilson on this song. With nothing to detract from the sound, The Beeb thought this was wonderful.

The second half started with “California Girls”, which night after night has been a great kick off to the hits part of the show. “Dance, Dance, Dance” got Probyn Gregory grooving and swinging his guitar. Brian Wilson’s reaction at the end of “Surfer Girl” was a deep throated “alright” so we guess he thought it sounded as good as we did!

Once again, the set list was given a shake up and we got treated to a song we hadn’t heard for a long while.... “Drive In” which really sounded brilliant, and had an acapella, harmony ending which Minty loved. “Wendy” stayed in the set tonight (introduced by Brian as having a Four Seasons kind of lyric) as did “Add Some Music” which went down a storm with the audience judging by the enormous cheer it got. “Going Home” gave Darian Sahanaja another chance to play with his geeky moog and tonight “Little Girl I Once Knew” was back in the set.  Why this wasn’t a big hit, we don’t know! “Surfer Moon” with great string accompaniment from the Stockholm Strings was played for the second night in a row (despite Brian announcing it was the first time they were playing it live!!!!) and again it sounded perfect.

“Don’t Worry Baby” with Jeff’s fine vocals got the cheers it richly deserved. Darian reprised his “Darlin’” and was humbled by the audience’s tremendous appreciation for him. Nicky Wonder led “Pet Sounds” and tonight the drum-off between Mike D’Amico and Nelson Bragg was the best so far. This song works so well live on stage, and long may it continue in the set list. Scott Bennett also did his soulful version of “Sail On Sailor”.
Darian Sahanaja

Paul Mertens and Jeff Foskett
The encore was the standard fare, but a little girl danced along on stage, to the left of Jeff Foskett. The Stockholm Strings provided the dance moves to “Surfin’ USA” and “Fun, Fun, Fun” and the whole of the RFH was on their feet.

So, night number two in London – to sum up, it was electric. The good vibe in the hall was there, and Brian looked so comfortable  - he was relaxed and enjoying himself. We are going to be sad tomorrow when all this comes to an end........

Not many photos - there were too many people using flashes, and the staff were on the case asking people to stop taking pictures...indeed Paul Von Mertens jumped into the audience at one point to stop someone!

Our night did not end there, however. A bit of a party in the Camel & Artichoke pub afterwards went on until past 1am, with a couple of guitars, a tambourine or two and plenty of singing to Beach Boys songs with the decent crowd of fans who had gathered in the upstairs room. What a night!

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