REVIEW: Brian Wilson presents Pet Sounds - The Sage, Gateshead

Brian Wilson, at the time of Pet Sounds' release. It remains hugely popular after 50 years
Brian Wilson, at the time of Pet Sounds' release. It remains hugely popular after 50 years

Beach Boys genius Brian Wilson brought this final tour of the band’s classic Pet Sounds album to mark its 50th anniversary to a sold out Sage.

And the capacity audience were treated to an incredibly moving evening of music in this most befitting of venues.

Wilson has assembled an excellent 11-piece band to re-create the amazing harmonies and stunning symphonies of his 1966 master opus.

And, alongside Beach Boys members Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin, the ensemble do a remarkable job of lovingly re-creating one of, if not the, best albums of all time.

Brian and the band open the evening with a set of songs from his early days including California Girls, Little Honda and I Get Around.

Much has been made about Wilson’s health on this tour, but this evening the 73-year-old is in good voice and mischievous mood, playing The Monster Mash and leading the audience in a quick burst of children’s song Row, Row, Row Your Boat!

After the interval, Brian and the boys turn to the darker, complex and multi-layered music of Pet Sounds.

The outstanding highlight is God Only Knows, one of pop’s all-time-great meditations on love, and on the heartbreak that can bring. It is so devotional, it sounds like a hymn and brings a spontaneous ovation from the audience.

Wilson shows us the melancholy at the heart of the Beach Boys’ songs of sun, surfing and girls.

The lament, I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times, is a study in isolation: “Sometimes I feel so very sad,” sighs Wilson.

Wilson and the band receive a rousing ovation at the end but still crown the evening with encores like Good Vibrations, Help Me Rhonda, Surfin’ USA, and Fun, Fun, Fun.

An an incredible evening from one of contemporary music’s true legends.

- Ian Monaghan