After the torrential downpours and thunderstorms that crossed the region earlier in the day, it was at a chilly, but mercifully dry and sunny Glastonbury Abbey that I witnessed something as melancholic and sad as it was beautiful and touching, when Brian Wilson and his band rolled into town to perform one of the greatest albums ever made on the latest leg of their Pet Sounds 50th Anniversary tour.
The fact that Wilson is now 75 and embarking on this run of global dates is exceptional in itself, the fact that he is now 75 with a well documented lifelong history of mental illness, drug addiction and crippling self-doubt behind him renders this feat even more remarkable.
The set was split into three parts; well-known hits, the full Pet Sounds album, more hits to finish – and make no mistake, despite the pathos unravelling before our eyes, it was still rollicking good fun and great to hear these timeless songs, especially being performed in such a beautiful setting.
A supremely talented band containing original Beach Boy Al Jardine, the ebullient, occasional member, Blondie Chaplin, and Jardine’s son, Matt, whose exceptional voice effortlessly took over most of what would have been Wilson’s parts, gave everything the appreciative audience could have hoped for. However….. I constantly found myself wondering, with the obviously struggling maestro looking vulnerable, confused and at times almost missing in action, especially during his tear-inducing, barely coherent stab at the beautiful “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)”, whether some things would have been better off left at the “great idea” stage and then quietly forgotten.
As glad and privileged that I feel having got to see what will almost certainly be Wilson’s last ever dates in the UK, I left the venue after their final song, the hugely popular Beach Boys singalong hit, “Fun, Fun, Fun” with the ironic yet heartbreaking thought that this evening may have been about as far from fun for the great man as it was possible to get