Last night, the Gaillard Center proved itself a remarkable venue in both sight and sound when the Beach Boys co-founders Brian Wilson and Al Jardine lit up the new stage with their 12-piece band and radiant vocal harmonies.
A dramatic velvet curtain backdropped the show, and band leader Paul Von Mertens described the stunning venue, with its apricot color scheme and tiered balconies, as being reminiscent of the Vienna Opera House.
Half an hour before the show, when the venue would fill for the sounds of Brian Wilson and his band
Blondie Chaplin, who was a Beach Boy back in the ’70s on albums like Carl and the Passions – "So Tough"
, also performed. Last night, he shined in leading the band in "Sail Away," which he also sang, along with Jardine, on Wilson's new album No Pier Pressure
, "Wild Honey, off 1967's Wild Honey,
and "Sail On, Sailor," which he also sang lead vocals for on the track's original recording in 1972.
The concert opened with the complex, angelic harmonies of "Our Prayer" before segueing into "Heroes and Villains," two songs that left the audience nothing short of amazed and excited about what was to come. The set was only an hour-and-a-half-long in total as Wilson and company quickly but beautifully cranked out the Beach Boys hits, some more obscure tracks, and newer Brian Wilson songs. The encore alone — "All Summer Long," "Help Me Rhonda," "Barbara Ann," "Surfing USA," "Fun, Fun, Fun," and "Love and Mercy" — was worth the hefty ticket price.
Al Jardine's son Matt Jardine, who sang lead vocals in songs like "Don't Worry Baby" and "Wouldn't It Be Nice," could have been young Brian Wilson himself with his pitch-perfect falsetto. And Jardine Senior, who led the troupe in tracks like No Pier Pressure
's "The Right Time," sounded like the same young man from the 1960s. As for Wilson, sometimes he sang lead, sometimes he sang backup, and sometimes he played his piano, but he was always present, even explaining the meaning behind several tracks — like "God Only Knows."
Another show highlight hit home locally when percussionist/vocalist Nelson Bragg gave a shoutout to Charleston's own A Fragile Tomorrow, whose latest LP Make Me Over came out this week.
And before the concert, showgoers could hear "Forever" playing from the Explorers Club, the very Beach Boys-esque band with Charleston roots. Frontman Jason Brewer says they've been doing that on the Brian Wilson tour all summer long.
I had the rare opportunity to visit with the legends Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, and Blondie Chaplin backstage and snap some photographs (and Blondie even asked me to hold his drink!). Enjoy this intimate look at an impressive venue as well as the performance by one of the very best composers of the past century and his magnificent band. For the full setlist, keep scrolling.
The man himself in his recliner, which goes with him on tour
Backstage with Brian Wilson and Al Jardine before the concert
Brian Wilson and crew take to the stage
The setlist from the Brian Wilson, Al Jardine Oct. 20, 2015 performance at the Gaillard Center:
The rhythm section and more
Our Prayer —> Heroes and Villains
Dance, Dance, Dance
Little Deuce Coupe
I Get Around
You're So Good to Me
Then I Kissed Her
In My Room
Don't Worry Baby
One Kind of Love
Sail On Sailor
She Knows Me Too Well
The Right Time
Wouldn't It Be Nice
Sloop John B
God Only Knows
All Summer Long
Fun, Fun, Fun
Love and Mercy