Brian Wilson at The Sage Gateshead 12/07/09

brian wilson

I originally wrote this review for The Crack magazine but someone beat me to it this time. Hope you like.

Songs new and old pleased fans at The Sage during an excellent performance by  king of the beach, Brian Wilson. The aged Beach Boy was on fine form, his vocals hampered only slightly by a sound mix that threatened to overwhelm his words with a large backing group. Luckily, the mix was much improved during a second set that brought forward old favourites like ‘Good Vibrations’ and ‘Barbara Ann’ as well as choice cuts from the solo catalogue.  Ironically, this expansive and superbly arranged band really helped to make the event as special as it was. From keyboard to bass and percussion to, joy of joys, theramin, all the performers gave it their all and the overall feeling that radiated from the stage was one of joy and love. 


For an audience attending the concert of an ex band member gone solo, the danger is always that, despite whatever quality of music on offer, they will be left with a longing for the real group. Wilson, though, has a legend and mystique all of his own and, aided by some superb backing singers, one never got the impression that a fuller Beach Boys line up was ever missed.


Unlike some of his contemporaries, and in spite of his past personal problems, Wilson still exudes the innocence with which such hits as ‘God Only Knows’ and ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’. The man also, above anything, represents an America in its prime. With his recently troubled nation now speaking in terms of hope and change, the warm reception for Wilson’s brand of peaceful optimism at The Sage seems fitting.


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