Brian Wilson

Massey Hall, Toronto ON June 18

> > Jun 20 2011

Brian Wilson - Massey Hall, Toronto ON June 18
By Cam LindsayAt 69, Brian Wilson no longer has that golden boy voice. But after 50 years in the business, he still knows how to entertain a crowd, most of whom were in front of him simply to witness the legend.

Rolling into Toronto, where he was being honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at North By Northeast, Wilson and his nine-piece band were supporting their Reimagines Gershwin album. However, first he treated his faithful to a 22-song set of the best in his extensive catalogue.

Despite his limited yet erratic movements and sporadic conversation, Wilson appeared genuinely excited to be in Toronto, requesting that the crowd even join him in an impromptu version of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." Knowing full well that he could no longer carry the sun-soaked harmonies he did in the early '60s, Wilson surrounded himself with a team of high-pitched co-vocalists in multi-instrumentalist Darian Sahanaja and guitarist Jeffrey Foskett, who nailed the lead on "Wouldn't It Be Nice." Wilson didn't just hand over the show to his supporting cast, though. He was very much the ringleader, nailing the challenging range of "God Only Knows" and conducting the intricate arrangements, as well as singing lead, on the zippy "Heroes and Villains" and closer "Good Vibrations."

The 75-minute set was virtually all you could ask from the original Beach Boy, which made his descent into a second set of Gershwin renditions such a tough pill to swallow. Not to take away from his accomplishment with Gershwin's material, because the band's execution was nearly flawless, but following up Wilson's very own feel-good classics with a set of whimsical symphonic standards was a deflating experience, to say the least. Simply put, Gershwin's material didn't hold up next to Wilson's.

Thankfully, Wilson strolled back out for an encore filled with some of his earliest work, namely "Barbara Ann," "Surfin' Safari" and "All Summer Long." Call it a coincidence that Gershwin himself performed at the same venue nearly 80 years before him, but on this night, Brian Wilson was every bit the equal of his idol, and judging by the songbook, the superior songwriter.
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you stupid hipster fuckers...all you wanted to him to do was play the Beach Boys, eh? God forbid he do something else with his talent...

FYI, the Beach Boys actually sucked. Once all this revisionist boner-polishing is over in a few years, people are going to feel stupid for lavishing so much praise on he single-handedly invented vocal harmonies..give me a break...also, he couldn't perform or write for years because he had 'nervous breakdown'- like rock and roll is such a hard job?
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Brian Wilson is without a doubt the greatest American popular song writer of the last half of the 20th century. The Beach Boys are one of the greatest and most successful recording and touring groups of all time from the early 60s until the mid-1980s. These are the facts. Very few if any North American musical groups over the last 30-40 years can compete with their success. Over time (50 years!) and with the deaths of two of the founding members, the Beach Boys as they once were will never be again - that does not diminish their legacy - that only rivaled by the Beatles.

Brian Wilson has written over 550 songs - probably hundreds of those in the post-Beach Boy era. The fact that he has suffered from both mental illness (and still does) and drug abuse (he is long over that issue) and has come back to perform before thousands of fans, won a Grammy just a few years ago and continues to produce CDs is a testament to the greatest and courage of the man (as if mental illness is something that one can control or should be joked about or belittled as the previous commenter tried to do).
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Right on!

Anyone who puts down Brian Wilson or the Beach Boys does not know much about music. Their music goes far beyond the early surf sounds. Pet Sounds is on par with Sgt Pepper...I personally like it better. Brian Wilson wrote, sang and produced some of the greatest popular music in the 1960s. What could have been if he had not become ill...we will never know. Thankfully, he came back, is still with us performing and writing.

Just because Brian W is not part of the current "hipster" scene or interested in commercial success (he has nothing to prove) does not mean he has nothing to contribute. BW has more talent in his little finger than the collective group of so-called popular musicians of today - see who amongst them will be remembered in 50 years.

Thank you, Brian, for (still) producing the great sounds over these many years.
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I was at the Massey Hall concert on June 18 and it was both full of positive energy (Brian Wilson's Beach Boy era hits) as well as somewhat experimental (Gershwin tunes). The audience was appreciative and very enthusiastic. When they played the BB hits, people were on their feet clapping, dancing and genuinely enjoying themselves.

While Brian Wilson's voice now rates only a "6" whereas it used to be a "10+", the backing musicians contributed both vocally and instumentally to produce a studio quality sound - live in concert.

One or twice during this concert, Brian's voice transcended back to when he was at his peak ("Girl Don't Tell Me"; "Please Let me Wonder") so that if you close your eyes, you could imagine what is was like at a Beach Boys concert circa 1966. When that happens, it is something you will never forget.
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In a scenario where someone has 'mental health issues' as a result of a fucking luxurious career afforded to him by a decadent western entertainment culture, then yes, it deserves mockery. I say suck it up, rock star. Perhaps the 'mental health issues' were brought on by all the fancy expensive rock star drugs he did for all those years. If you want to sympathize with some whiny asshole who couldn't handle 'competing' with The Beatles (like music is a sport or something?), that's your right. But I call bullshit...

Brian is certainly part of hipster culture, exspecially now. He's indie rock's current muse. Otherwise he wouldn't be in this magazine, or given a masturbatory award at Canada's biggest 'indie' festival. ;-)

Oh, and the Beach Boys do most definitely suck. They take the prize as the most limp, insipid band of their era. Most of them weren't even surfers- they were, in fact, the original Poseurs, capitalizing on a trend that they had nothing to do with. THAT is also a fact, Mr Wikipedia Bio.
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I guess everyone has an "opinion" but how wrong can you get?

(For other readers' information) The drummer, Dennis Wilson, was a real surfer and he's the one who got them headed in that direction. Surf music was a California-based craze for a couple of years and, yes, they tagged onto that to get known - but they were not much more than kids then. I think Carl Wilson was only 14 or 15 years old.

I wouldn't classify any of the music on their "Pet Sounds" classic album or thereafter as a surf music.

Anyways, you know nothing about mental illness or the causes. BW had mental issues before the drugs...but why do I bother trying to explain this to someone who only seeks attention.

Too bad so many millions of people enjoyed their music back then and even today - it gives them happiness and that obviously really burns you up. But then again, I am sure that your contributions to world peace. hunger and medical science surpass anything that a musician could offer. So sit back and criticize all you want.

You come off sounding like an inarticulate, arrogant fool who is jealous of anyone else's fame or talent. I bet you have never been to anything other than a free concert or ever bought an unused CD.

You're nothing more than a troller - and not even an entertaining one at that. And while you're at it, get a job and take a shower. I know exactly who you are. Bye, I'm off to enjoy the fruits of western culture - ain't it great!

And I won't be back to read your follow-up - I bet that really burns you up.


The Hipster
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Ha ha ha. You rock, Hipster. That's putting him in his place. You know your stuff.
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I find it funny when people say the man who influenced Sgt Pepper sucks. Give me a break Canada. Consider ourselves lucky to have a man such as this touring our country. I think the Gershwin album is great and seem to remember people being disappointed when he performed "Smile" beginning to end.
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