GIG : Brian WilsonVenue : Royal Festival Hall, London
Date : Sunday 18th September 2011
Cost : £55 (no booking fee)
Our Verdict : It's Getting Better All The Time
Night number three… it was the last night in London and we hoped that Brian’s momentum would be maintained. Brian-land is a small world, and whilst having pizza for dinner before the show, who should sit at the table next to us, but two of the band Spygenius – a band we have seen a few times at the IPO’s in the UK. They too, were going to the show!
So, this was the last time we were going to hear ‘Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin’ and we savoured every moment. The harmonies were great, and being in seats just to the left of centre, we had a good view of Probyn Gregory playing a slidey steel on “I Got A Crush On You”. Tonight Minty did the ‘close your eyes and just listen’ bit and The Beeb was right – it did sound lovely.
Time just flew past us, and before we knew it, the final “Our Prayer” type harmonies were fading and Brian was walking off the stage for the interval.
The second set kicked off in the usual style, with Brian Wilson walking on stage to the intro of “California Girls” and the hall erupted in a great cheer and hearty applause. Tonight “Salt Lake City” was back in the set and the band members spotlights were also still there, Darian Sahanaja with “Darlin’”, Scott Bennett with “Sail On Sailor”, Nicky Wonder leading the way with “Pet Sounds” and the drum-off between Mike D’Amico and Nelson Bragg was the best we have heard on the tour (the audience went wild). Also, the whole band stopped and just watched the pair beating it out and Nicky kissed his guitar at the end! The Beeb, being his usual shy self, hollered “Brilliant Nicky”.
Jeff Foskett did “Don’t Worry Baby”, his falsetto sounding sweet and we also had a bit of a nugget, with a new addition to the set “She Knows Me So Well” which went down a storm. Other newbies on this tour, tonight were “Girl Don’t Tell Me”, with both Jeff and Probyn playing 12 strings, and Brian sounding smooth, and “Marcella” which totally rocked, and Probyn went mad on guitar. The reaction from the audience on this song was awesome and Brian looked very happy with it.
“God Only Knows” was introduced by Brian as the “best song I’ve ever written” and as the first notes were heard from the French horn, played by Probyn, the crowd gave a loud cheer. We wouldn’t say tonight was the best version we have heard on the tour but it is such a great song, and the arrangements fantastic, that you can’t say anything negative about it.
The set ended with “Good Vibrations” and before it started, Brian so candidly told us that it was his last song of the set before he came back on for an encore!!! Everyone laughed!
Well we got the encore, and it was the usual fare, with “Johnny Be Good”, “Help Me Rhonda”, “Barbra Ann”, “Surfin’ USA” and “Fun, Fun, Fun” and then the second encore when we were sent on our way with a bit of “Love and Mercy”. Before leaving the stage for the final time, Brian did allude to coming back again…. and soon!
Again, not many photos as the RFH police were on the ball tonight and stopping everyone they saw.
We were able to say goodbye to the band in the post-show party before they got on their tour bus and headed to the South coast to catch a ferry over to France for their next gig.
So, 6 concerts over 8 days. We thought it would be hard to write six times about what is essentially the same show, but each time we heard the Gershwin set we heard and saw new things, and with the second set being changed every night, we had some variety. Hope you have enjoyed the ride with us.