Brian Wilson, Gig Review. Exhibition Centre, Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * * *

Brian Wilson taking the applause in Liverpool, 2017. Photograph by Ian D. Hall.

History is not only made by the first appearance, but it is also in the final moment in which the observer knows in their heart they might never see such beauty, the monumental or the heart beat again. History is not a private club for the winning of a trophy, the essays of children getting too grips with world events, the worry of elections or the spin of the dice which dictates a person’s collision with the aftermath of the historic; sometimes it just boils down to the fact that a certain song, a writer’s love and passion will never be heard in the same way by a crowd in a city again.

Brian Wilson is one of the world’s greatest legends, a man to whom so much is owed and yet just turning up at a gig, a performance, doesn’t seem to justify what is owed, buying a T-shirt…in an age when the unenlightened can walk into in a house of fashion on the high Street and purchase a band’s image on cotton without even have sat through a single album or understand the complexity of what made a particular album click, it hardly seems right; the best bet is to love the performer, to watch what goes on around them, the revolving explosion of joy, to know what an album such as Pet Sounds actually means in terms of the historic and them smile, for the final performance you might be privy too is always the one that will fill you with emotion.

Those who were fortunate enough to attend Brian Wilson’s gig at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall in 2016 were showered with the songs of the Beach Boys and especially that seminal album, the love in the hall was undoubted and full, yet for all the majesty that the age old venue holds, it was more like an intimate gig, a love letter that gets handed around after school, the hearsay resounding along the streets of Liverpool because only a couple of thousand got to hear it. Inside the Exhibition Centre down by the waterfront, the feeling was amplified and expanded beyond expectations.

It mattered not a jot that the California sun didn’t show up, that the weather was a downcast as a Lowry painting, typically British, characteristically downbeat summer in this fair isle, what mattered was the history being made in the hall, the knowledge that for the last time Brian Wilson and his incredible band, including the sublime Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin, were going to take Pet Sounds out for a walk amongst the crowd and throw in a multitude of Beach Boys classics in for good measure.

Songs such as California Girls, I Get Around, In My Room, Surfer Girl, Good Vibrations, Help Me Rhonda and Barbara Ann joined the immaculate and pure Wouldn’t It Be Good, God Only Knows and the compelling Sloop John B in raising the roof, in raising the spirits of each and every soul who had taken Brian Wilson as one of their own, a Scouser with the advantage of having lived in the sunshine, a man of the Mersey who had gone through it all but to this day is so highly regarded that at times Mount Everest is dwarfed by his presence.

There are a few musicians who have laid such an endearing stamp of authority and love on the world; few though match the brilliance and genius of Brian Wilson. History is there to remind us what we will miss, if this is the last time that this captivating soul comes to Liverpool then history shall weep at the thought but feel honoured to have been there.


Ian D. Hall