Brian Wilson, the creative genius behind the Beach Boys and Jeff Beck, still one of the most interpretative rock guitarists around, combined to showcase their incredible talents in concert on Friday night at Chastain Park Amphitheatre in Atlanta.
Many people have considered this collaborative live performance strange as the two music styles Wilson and Beck represent don't seem to coincide much! However it did make for an entertaining, if a little disjointed, evening.
For the better part of two and a half hours the crowd at Chastain were given faithful renditions of some of the biggest hits of the 1960's by Brian Wilson and two other former members of the Beach Boys, Al Jardine and David Marks while Jeff Beck followed with some incredible, and yet understated, guitar before being joined on stage by Wilson's band for the latter stages of his set and the encore.
Brian Wilson, the talented composer of the songs that defined a generation of American music has taken to the road again with former Beach Boy band members, Al Jardine and David Marks, to reintroduce the music that is now 50 years old to a new generation of fans.
In the course of their set Wilson, Jardine, and Marks who were joined by Jeffrey Foskett and a band of eight others played just about every big hit from those days in the early 1960's.
Wilson appeared to be "going through the motions" for much of the evening leaving the more expressive and animated performances to his former Beach Boy bandmates.
While some of the arrangements of the Beach Boys hits were a little more complex, a function of the 12 member band, the harmonies were almost as strong as they ever were. Foskett's voice was strong but occasionally Wilson's or Jardine's would falter.
Highlights of the set included "Sloop John B", "Good Vibrations", "California Girls" and an arrangement of "Old Man River/Cottonfields"
Seeing the Beach Boys songs played live by the original band members is a huge treat for anyone with even just an inkling of their musical standing. The Beach Boys are giants of American popular music and their legacy is assured, while Wilson's, Jardine's and Marks' voices may have faded their reputation and their music has not. It was very cool to see the legends performing live.
After a brief intermission Jeff Beck provided a masterclass in guitar that left most in the audience in awe of Beck's capabilities as a guitarist and more appreciative of his well-deserved stature in rock music history.
Jeff Beck lets his guitar do his talking for him, allowing the listener to focus on how his guitar sounded. After a magnificent cover of Jimmy Hendrix' "Little Wing" I wasn't sure that it could get any better although his cover of the Beatles "A Day in the Life" was equally brilliant and "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" was sublime.
Brian Wilson and his band returned for a three song encore that included hits "Barbara Ann", "Surfin' USA" and an instrumental version of "Danny Boy".
After listening to the subtle harmonies of the Wilson set, hearing Beck's guitar was a different experience but equally rewarding. Beck's brilliance as a guitarist is all about the subtle manner in which he makes the guitar sound. Perhaps the two artists are not so remote as first thought.
Brian Wilson set list
Do It Again
She Knows Me Too Well
Their Hearts Were Full of Spring
Old Man River/Cottonfields
Sail On, Sailor
Heroes and Villains
God Only Knows
Sloop John B
Wouldn't It Be Nice
Help Me, Rhonda
I Get Around
Fun, Fun, Fun
Jeff Beck Set
You Know, You Know
Little Wing (The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)
You Never Know
Where Were You
Our Prayer (The Beach Boys song)
Child Is Father of the Man (The Beach Boys song)
Surf's Up (The Beach Boys song)
Goodbye Pork Pie Hat
How High the Moon (Alfred Drake cover)
Rollin' and Tumblin' (Muddy Waters cover)
A Day in the Life (The Beatles cover)
Barbara Ann (The Regents cover)
Surfin' U.S.A. (The Beach Boys song)