There’s a fine line between nostalgia and one last hoorah. Wednesday night's Brian Wilson show at the Saenger Theatre seemed to walk that line. It is hard to imagine that Pet Sounds is 50 years old. To say that it has stood the test of time would be a massive understatement. But at the same time, through no fault of its own, parts do come off as dated. However, hearing it live in its entirety, from front to back, did put the whole concept into view and justify all the love it has gained throughout the years. My only real setback about the whole Pet Sounds experience was a misunderstanding that this would be the last time it would ever be played in its entirety, but alas, it was not true. The tour continues and so does the experience for others to enjoy.
Having a bucket list is both saddening and fulfilling at the same time. Missing Bowie, Prince, and even Motörhead has pushed me to try and catch those memories my dad embedded in me as a child. The show was as nostalgic as I thought it would be and did not disappoint. It was a bit odd having those feelings that I was stuck in Pleasantville or an episode of Gidget, but that is indeed the real nature of nostalgia.
Blondie Chaplin sang three songs before the Pet Sounds set. To that point, they were the most energetic of the evening and made for a great transition. The set was composed of three unique looks and moods.
As the band wandered back to the stage to play Pet Sounds, you really would not have had any inclination that something vastly different was about to take place. The set had its own identity—not only in tone, of course, but in look too. It was very reminiscent of those 60s late-show appearances; moody would be putting it mildly. It took 23 songs, but the night’s first standing ovation came from the first cut on the B-side of the album, "God Only Knows," and was rightfully deserved. As the Pet Sounds set concluded, Wilson left the stage as the band finished off “Caroline, No.”
There was another standing ovation at the end of the Pet Sounds set that lead into a classic encore, comprised of many memorable Beach Boys tunes. Before the encore, band introductions were made and were accompanied by some classic sound bites, including “Cat Scratch Fever,” “Don't Fear the Reaper,” “Walk on Wild Side,” and “Misorlou.”
The encore took on a life of its own as well. Much like the opening set and the Pet Sounds set, it too had its own lighting and mood—that mood being excitement. The amped-up party vibe of the set sent the rest of the evening forward with a joy that could have been sliced with a knife. All in all, it was a pleasant and nostalgic evening, and was brought home with a peaceful rendition of Wilson’s “Love and Mercy.” You can see more pictures here.