When it comes to writing these reviews / blogs I usually write them chronologically from the start of the event to the end. With this one it seems only fitting that I start with the great man himself…
We booked tickets for this event as soon as they went on sale. Ste & I had seen Brian Wilson at Glastonbury in 2005, which was a gorgeous performance in the Sunday afternoon sunshine. This was a different prospect 12 years later. Brian is 75 years old and it would be fair to say that his health isn’t what it once was. To come out on a world tour is nothing short of amazing and it brings some context to the performance. The Beach Boys always shared lead vocals amongst the group and this performance was no exception. The band that Brian Wilson surrounded himself with were nothing short of awesome. They brought all of the tunes to life with an array of instruments and vocals. It was great to see Al Jardine on stage with Brian, but it was his son, Matt, who stole the show for me. Every time he took over vocal duties it sounded amazing. Brian’s voice isn’t what it once was, but for every slight disappointment (Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)’s spoken word chorus) there was a delight (God Only Knows was very touching).
Pet Sounds is my favourite Beach Boys album (& in my top 50 albums) and Good Vibrations is one of my favourite ever songs. This was an opportunity not to be missed. I’m not the biggest fan of listening to lots of surf songs in a row, but all have their moments. I never thought of myself as a band of Help Me, Rhonda, but that was honestly my highlight of the night. The whole of Times Square seemed involved when that was played and I wouldn’t have minded if they’s extended it for repeat play. Good Vibrations seemed oddly wanting, but there was a bit of a crowd distraction at that point (see later).
I’m almost certain I’ll never see Brian Wilson live again. I don’t need to. This was a special night with a man whose genius will live on through this album for centuries to come.
Seasick Steve was the main support act. I’ve seen this man perform at Glastonbury 2 or 3 times and enjoy his performances each time. That said, I’ve never really felt compelled to listen to any of his albums. Tonight was no exception. It was a really enjoyable set full of “guitar” changes. One fan had certainly listened to all of his albums…on repeat. It was great to see a big fan be selected to go on stage with him and be given a signed LP. Nice touch.
Martha & The Vandellas
Umbrella gate. It seems astounding to me that people with eyes can’t tell that if they put up an umbrella, that no-one behind them will be able to see a thing. Not one thing. Fortunately umbrella gate seemed to die down for Seasick Steve and Brian Wilson as people showed more respect as the night wore on. The other support acts didn’t have such respect shown as the rain came down steadily and heavily. Martha’s set was not one for the likes of me. I enjoy a track of theirs when it comes up on a compilation or on the radio, but this was 6 or 7 songs too long for me. Other people loved it, so I won’t complain. Martha indicated that she came to “make love to y’all” and at the age of 76 you can’t hep but admire the energy and humour that goes into this type of performance. Her tambourine had seen better days and if I could offer any advice it might be that there was a serious infection control risk with that instrument.
Lanterns On The Lake
I really want to love Lanterns on the Lake. I enjoyed their last album, Beings. I also had the pleasure of seeing them perform with the Royal Northern Sinfonia last year at The Sage. They have all of the ingredients that I’m looking for in a band. Powerful tunes with an original sound. However, they sometimes seem to fall short of delivering. It must have been a difficult crowd at Times Square and they only had a short set (5 songs I think). They were just getting the crowd going (and me going) with Through The Cellar Door and The Crawl, but then slowed things right down with the final tune to leave me wanting that rousing finish which never came. I never envy a support act for a crowd like this. A crowd waiting for a legend. In the rain. I suspect the next album may well be the one to truly hook me in.
It was lovely surprise to see Cattle & Cane added to this bill. There’s probably nothing I can say about this band that I haven’t said in other blogs, but if you haven’t heard them, you really should. The set was a perfect highlight reel of their latest album, Mirrors, with a cover and live favourite, The Poacher, thrown in for good measure. For an independent band from Teesside to share a stage with a legend must be a very special feeling indeed.
The Lake Poets – these were up first and I can’t tell you much about them. Ste & Amy had the tickets and were running a bit late. I watched from outside and sent sad pictures to them of me in the rain. Not to worry, it was all worth it in the end.
I referenced a crowd distraction earlier. This came in the form of a drunken young lady who sidled up to Andrew and Ste and repeatedly encouraged them to dance with her. As stoic men they were having none of it. Neither was she. Not taking no for an answer, she continued to harass them until Ste told her definitively that her behaviour was unwanted and unacceptable. I was in tears with laughter stood just behind them, all the time fearing that I was her next target! Classic.