Tuesday, September 13, 2005

SMiLE Journey or A Lesson In Duality(part 2)

Arriving in Providence, I still had the feeling that something very special was gonna happen that night at the show in Waterford, CT. I just couldn't shake it. I hoped Brian and band wouldn't disappoint me. I spent the better part of the day catching up with an old high school friend named Jason. Several months earlier he had promised to loan me his car to drive the 200 miles to Waterford and he held true to his word. I bought him a ticket for the show, but for some reason or other he chose not to come. I didn't question him as he had come through with the car and I didn't want to pressure him.
I started off for the show during the peak evening rush hour and was a bit worried I might not make it on time. Thankfully, the Gods of rock 'n roll were with me and I arrived at the venue with a mere five minutes to spare. I quickly shuffled in, got my recording device prepped and blissfully took my seat 11 rows back on Jeff's side, just in front of the right hand bank of speakers.
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The only bummer during the show was the very drunk middle aged asshole who occupied the seat just in front of me. His off-time clapping and inappropriate 'hoots & hollers' were really annoying, but I wasn't about to let this fuckball ruin my evening. I ignored him for the most part, but did feel like kicking him right in the back of the head more than once during the show. The couple that was sitting next to me did manage to tell him and his drunken friends to shut up, which surprisingly did just that.
The band came out for the first set and it was clear they had come to play, and play well. They built momentum during the first set with barn-burners like "Breakaway","Add Some Music", "Darlin", "Pet Sounds", and a one-two punch of "Sail On Sailor>Marcella" to close out the set. I was very excited at this point. Not only was Brian in fantastic voice, but the band was clearly having a ball on stage and it was evident in their playing.
Finally, why we had all come (and what I had traveled over a thousand miles to hear) began! I'll start by saying that the performance surpassed even my grand expectations for the evening. Every note was pitch-perfect and a tidal wave of bliss was pouring out of the speakers. At points during the SMiLE section, Brian was actually growling! His vocal performance was the strongest I had seen in the four performances I've witnessed. The band was grinning ear to ear and Brian was as animated as I've ever seen. He was singing on parts that he normally doesn't, including 'da-da's' during the cello segue from "Old Master Painter" in to "You Were My Sunshine"(he loves to say da-da, you know!). He even joined Nicky during the "pirate rap" section. WOW! Mr. Wilson was en fuego! Brian was waving his hands all about, yelling to the audience to clap along, and projecting a soaring falsetto.

Highlights included:

The orgasmic vocal crescendo to conclude "Cabin Essence" Ga-ga-gooey!

The bouncing vocals on the "Never you mind, you wonderful you!"

The sublime "I believe" section of "Child Is Father..."

The haunting beauty of the piano segue in to "Surf's Up".
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Brian tore in to the first verse of "Surf's Up" with such gusto I nearly fell outta my seat. The old man's still got it!
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The first few lines of "Vegetables" with Brian growling on the down beat was a wondrous thing to witness. As they all played with their tools, Brain blurted out, "We're building a HOUSE!"

The frantic chaos of "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow"
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The trio of vocals traded off between Jeffrey, Darian, and Brian at the beginning of "I'm In Great Shape".

Suffice to say, I was in a state of complete mind and body nirvana by the end of the second set. I had just witnessed sheer perfection and I knew it! This was one of the most amazing concert experiences I've had in over 20 years of seeing live music. Brian and band delivered a masterpiece.
The first encore was about 20 or so minutes of greatest hits songs from the Beach Boys early recording career. The whole crowd had been on its feet since "Good Vibrations" and remained standing for the rest of the show. "Johnny B. Goode" and "Barbara Ann" were two highlights and had the whole place bopping as fast as they could. Although this was basically the oldies part of the show, it was still thrilling to see Brian play bass and continue in the animated fashion he had displayed earlier. It was also revealed during the band introductions that none other than David Marks(one of the original Beach Boys!) was in attendance. Perhaps this was a motivating factor for the band and Brian to perform at their peak. Lucky for us!
They returned for the second encore and performed a new, if seemingly unfinished, Brain Wilson composition called "The Path Of Life" that beautifully segued in to "Love & Mercy". This was as heartfelt as they come, folks. There aren't many genuine moments in a rock 'n roll concert, but this was truly a moment of spiritual enlightenment if ever there was one. I felt elevated to an emotional level that even comes through in the recording. L&M is probably one of my favorite songs by ANY composer and it moves me everytime I hear it. I am eternally grateful that Brian has returned to a form that allows him to continue to break new musical ground and barriers that once stood in his way. His wife, Melinda, has a lot to do with this. She and their children have given him a foundation of love and emotional support sorely lacking from his life in previous years. And we are ALL the better for it. Thank God for Brain Wilson!
As I walked out in to the cool air I saw a beautiful moon shining down on me and was surrounded by several families also heading for the parking lot. Two middle-aged men with a pre-teen boy and girl were walking just ahead of me. Clearly repeating what he had heard from one of the men at an earlier date, the young boy proclaimed, "Mike Love sucks!" To which one of the older men replied, "Mike Love doesn't suck. He just a jerk." Ahhhh, sweet insanity.
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I'm not sure how I made it back the 200 miles to Providence in the middle of the night considering the altered state I was in by shows end. I worried the whole drive back that somehow I hadn't managed to capture the evenings performance on my recording device. Not to worry, I had. Once again, the Gods of rock 'n roll were smiling upon me. I truly thank them and offer this prayer as payment for their generosity.


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