Friday, November 13, 2015

Brian Wilson Concert Review

One thing that I can absolutely assure you without the slightest reservation is that the Forgotten Hits Readers who won tickets to Wednesday Night's Brian Wilson Concert at The Genesee Theatre will NEVER forget the experience ... it was absolutely OUTSTANDING!!!   

The night was a series one highlight after another.  First, we were all completely shocked and amazed when the ushers escorted all ten of us to our front row seats.  (We could literally rest our elbows at the feet of Brian Wilson for the entire performance!)  There aren't enough thank you's in the world to tell Colleen Rogalski and the whole Genesee Theatre crew how much we appreciate this ... our entire group was blown away by this incredible experience.

And the fact that Brian and his band COMPLETELY blew us away with an outstanding show simply put the icing on the cake ... which, in the case of FH Reader and ticket winner Mark Magel just happened to be his birthday cake that night. 

 FH Ticket Winners Bob Benham 
and The Birthday Boy, Mark Magel ...
both sporting appropriate Beach Boys attire for the concert!

Supported by a ten piece band, Wilson ran through the hits in rapid-fire fashion.  Throughout the night, he shared the lead vocal duties with special guest Al Jardine, Al's son Matt (who now handles all of the high harmonies and also solo'd on several tracks), Darian Sahanaja (fresh off the road from The Zombies reunion tour, celebrating their "Odessey and Oracle" album) and Scott Bennett, who was all over the stage filling in on various instruments throughout the performance.  (In fact, many of the members of Brian's band are capable and quite adept and proficient at playing multiple instruments, filling in wherever necessary to give the audience the fullest sound possible ... at times it felt like you were actually in the recording studio, the music was so perfect and precise.)   

Split into two sets (followed by a lengthy encore that included "All Summer Long", "Help Me Rhonda", "Barbara Ann", "Surfin' USA", "Fun Fun Fun" and the closing track "Love And Mercy"), they opened the show with "Our Prayer", blending right into the extended "cantina" version of "Heroes And Villains" followed by "California Girls".  Along the way, they covered a bunch of car songs ("Shut Down", "Little Deuce Coupe", "I Get Around") and ballads ("Don't Worry Baby", "Please Let Me Wonder", "In My Room", "Surfer Girl" and the song Brian described as "The best song I ever wrote", "God Only Knows").  We were also treated to "Good Vibrations", "Do It Again" (one of my all-time favorites ... and it sounded GREAT when they did it again Wednesday Night), "Dance Dance Dance", "Sloop John B", "Wild Honey", "Sail On Sailor" (the last two featuring outstanding lead vocals by Scott Bennett, filling in since Blondie Chaplin wasn't part of this particular performance), "Darlin'" (a great job by Darian Sahanaja ... and one of the highlights of the show), "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and several others, all performed to pop perfection by this stellar group of musicians.  (In fact, if I was surprised by anything it was the fact that only one new track from Brian's "No Pier Pressure" album was performed ... the very Beach Boys-sounding "The Right Time", featuring Al Jardine on lead vocals.  The original intention of this tour was to help promote the new CD ... and at various stops along the way, other guests vocalists would join Brian on stage to perform one of their tracks from this excellent collaboration.  The new release is HIGHLY recommended.) 

One always has to wonder during a Brian Wilson concert if Brian himself is having fun up there ... he rarely appears to be ... but he must be proud to see the reaction to the songs he created over the past 50+ years.  (Truth be told, I think he may have been a bit under the weather ... he seemed congested and, sitting that close to his piano, looked a little tired ... but I've still got to hand it to him ... out of ALL of The Beach Boys who have come and gone over the years, Brian Wilson has proven to be a TRUE survivor ... and the world is a better place because of it.  At one point he asked the audience, "Have you seen my new movie?", obviously referring to the biopic "Love And Mercy" starring Paul Dano and John Cusak in the Brian Wilson role.  Still it drew rousing cheers from the audience.)   

All in all, a top notch concert experience ... so thank you again, Colleen and The Genesee Theatre for hosting our group.  (And congratulations again to our winners, Bob Benham, Bob Burns, Tom Crowe and Mark Magel, and their respective guests ... see, it PAYS to read Forgotten Hits!!!)  

 70% of our group ... 
L-R - George, Bob, Bob, kk, Mark, Tom and Christopher
(not pictured:  Frannie ... who took this shot ... Flo and Marty)

Working from our "locals list", it was great to see some of these readers again, many of whom I haven't seen in YEARS!!!

For our out-of-town followers, there are still several chances to catch these guys in concert before the end of the year ... you'll find the complete tour itinerary here:

I had seen the Beach Boys eight times total but none since Carl passed away.  First time was back in '68.  My memory says Brian was at maybe two of the shows I had attended.  One time in particular was in the early '80s at Holiday Star Theater in Indiana.  He sat at the piano as more a figurehead than a performer.  I had read a few reviews of this year's tour so I kind of knew what to expect.    
Maybe it was the front row seats that had me almost shaking hands with Al Jardine or maybe it was the company of the other winners and our host, but I was blown away by how well Brian and his band created the sound of days past.  In a day where many hit makers forget what made them famous and only want to perform new material, it was a joy to hear a concert where most of the tunes were the songs we all sung along with in our youth.  Kudos to Al Jardine for coming out of the shadows and performing like a star instead of the Beach Boys fifth member.    
Saying all this, it was still a night to celebrate the genius of Brian Wilson and he did not disappoint.  My wife mentioned that she noticed a few tears coming from his eyes as he sang Love and Mercy as the finale of the evening.  It was clear that the audience appreciated not only the performance but the fifty years of memories.  
Truly a night to remember on many levels.  
-- Mark Magel

I'm echoing Kent's review about the Brian Wilson show we
saw Wednesday. The cool thing about seeing a show from
the vantage point of the first row is to see how the musicians interact - and "witness the magic" close up. When I watched Paul Mertens play his sax, I heard the acoustic sound of his horn as well as the ampified sound. 
The musicians in Brian's band were top-notch, and performed flawlessly - but man they looked like they were having a ball doing it! 
I was surprised that Jardine's voice was so close to Mike Love's in a live setting. And his son reproduced the high notes and harmonies that are hallmarks of the Beach Boys sound. 
They played all the hits - Wild Honey was one that stood out for me. 
If I had complaints at all, it was the fact that Brian really didn't do too much of his solo work at this show, and his piano blocked my sight lines - but I know that I witnessed a show the likes of I'll ever see again. 
Thanks to Forgotten Hits and the Genesee Theater for making it happen! 
-- Bob Burns 
The Genesee Theater, Forgotten Hits and Kent Kotal had a contest to win tickets to see Brian Wilson and Al Jardine. I wrote a small paragraph about what Brian Wilson has meant to me. Boy, was I surprised when Kent notified me that I had won two tickets to see Brian Wilson. I have been going through rough times with my wife. She has cancer and is three weeks into treatment getting Chemo and Radiation. Cancer and the treatment are very hard on my wife ... no energy as she fights her battle. I provide 24/7 for Deb, but she said I deserve a break and to go for all I do for her ... you go and have a great time. 
My son Christopher, a Marine that served in Iraq was celebrating Veteran’s Day and went with me. We arrived and parked in the rear lot. There were four million dollar tour buses and a huge new semi for moving from concert to concert. These buses were totally first class and security kept everyone away. Brian’s was a multi blue colored bus. What a way to travel!  
The Genesee Theater is simply beautiful inside and out. 
All of the staff was extremely nice and helpful at all times.  We picked up our tickets at the ticket booth and they gave us directions as to where we needed to go for our seats. As we walked through the two white doors, we were directly in front of the stage, directly in the center. I kept checking the tickets. This has to be a mistake. It was no mistake. We would be 10 - 15 feet away from Brian Wilson at his piano, front row. Something like this has never happened to me before. Kent, his wife, all the other winners and myself were in total shock at our seat location ... especially with this happening for a Brian Wilson Concert. It doesn’t get any better than this!   
Brian came walking out on the stage, looking great and sounding like he definitely owned the stage. Brian walked  across the stage and gave a huge wave above his head to the crowd ... and he says “Hi, everyone ... how are you doing?”  He immediately sits down at the piano and starts playing. The richness of the music was literally perfect.  Every song was perfectly performed and Brian was in great form. Brian is all business on stage. He doesn’t talk much, but he has talked to each of us through all of his music. As one song finished they would immediately start another.
Brian and Al share the stage with all the other musicians. Each was lead singer on many songs. Brian really respects all of his musicians. There is so much raw talent in everyone that you have to be very alert to all that is going on.  
Brian's voice was perfect!   
Al’s voice was perfect!   
Matt Jardine has an incredible range in his voice. He nailed all of the highest notes, midranges and lower ranges. Brian and Al can’t hit the ranges like they used to.    
On one of the songs two of the guys joined the drummer and they each were banging perfectly in rhythm together.  Three guys on one drum set made use of every single piece of equipment. Totally Awesome!   
Every song they played and sang were totally stunning.  Brian and his band is a must see concert. There is no better!!!! I asked my son how he felt and he was totally blown away. He said “this is the best concert I have ever been to. The sounds, harmonies and songs don’t get any better than this”. I raised him right I guess! He said the groups he likes and goes to see in concerts don’t compare with a Brian Wilson concert.    
I didn’t sleep the night before the concert with anticipation and the night after the concert I was up until 3:30 PM wide awake relieving all that I had witnessed at Brian’s concert. PERFECTION!!!!!!!    
I have followed Brian Wilson from the beginning. His happiness and creativeness and all he has created have been a very important part of my life. Whether you are happy or sad, Brian’s music takes you on a beautiful journey that will make all days better.    
Thank you, Kent, Forgotten Hits and the Genesse Theater, for literally giving me a perfect evening with Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and all of the band members. 
-- Tom Crowe   
Once the concert started and I saw how Christopher was reacting to the music, I told him that it was great to see that he had so much appreciation for this music.  And he said, "Are you kidding me?  I grew up on this stuff!  I love it!!!"  Glad you were both able to get out and enjoy the music for a few hours ... sometimes it's the best escape-mechanism there is.  Glad you both could make it.  (kk) 

I knew the music and the band would be GREAT, but sure didn’t expect to be sitting front-row-center in front of Brian’s piano!!! 
It was a surreal night — I felt I had to pinch myself — is this really happening ?!?! 
The band played mostly classic Beach Boys’ hits, after kicking it off with the beautiful vocal ensemble Our Prayer.
I expected to hear more from Brian’s latest album No Pier Pressure — I believe they did one number from it, featuring Al Jardine on vocal.  
This band has talent to burn … Brian sat at the piano, singing along with the band, who carried the night, playing each song to perfection.  
This was my first visit to The Genesee Theatre, and l hope to return for subsequent shows!! The place is acoustically perfect, majestic and grand.   
An unbelievable evening … it was wonderful seeing some friends I hadn’t seen in years!   
All in all it was Fun, Fun, Fun!!!  
-- Bob Benham

More pix from Wednesday Night's Concert ...

Al Jardine in action

 The master, Brian Wilson

Scott and Darian
(with Matt Jardine in between in the background)

  The final bow

 Me and Frannie after the show

And don't forget ... we've got MORE tickets to give away to the Richard Marx show at The Genesee Theatre on December 4th.  Get your entries in NOW!!! 
(Just tell us ... in 25 words or less ... why you want to go to the show ... but remember ... your answer HAS to include the title of one of Richard Marx's Top 20 Hits!)