Brian Wilson, the most famous Beach Boy, offered a career-spanning set to a sold-out crowd of adoring fans at Benaroya Hall Sunday.
Brian Wilson began his hit-making career five decades ago, so whenever he performs, he carries much history. He treated a sold-out crowd at Benaroya Hall Sunday to three dozen of those hits as part of a generous, career-spanning two-hour-plus set.
Wilson sat center stage behind a white grand piano, and if he looked a bit stiff when the show began, the crowd was predisposed to forgive that awkwardness. Wilson has long suffered from anxiety disorders, so the fact that he still tours at 73 was an answered prayer for his fans.
To Wilson’s left was his Beach Boy bandmate Al Jardine and their interaction was a big part of the night. At one point, Jardine shook a finger when Wilson came in at the wrong point in a song.
When there were vocal gaps, the 11-piece band quickly filled them. Jardine’s son Matt also sang falsetto vocal on “Don’t Worry Baby,” one of the night’s high points.
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No one expects Wilson to hit those highs now, but he did sing a moving “God Only Knows.”
“Some people say this was the best song I ever wrote,” he remarked.
His surprise at a standing ovation seemed sincere.
It was also a joy to watch Wilson listen to his mostly young band — led by Darian Sahanaja — tackle songs originally crafted about teenage angst. Also in the band was ’70s-era Beach Boy Blondie Chaplin, who brought an edgier groove to “Sail On, Sailor.”
Still, the concert was mostly about celebrating legacy. When Wilson finished the night with “Love and Mercy,” to wild applause, it was his entire songwriting catalog that drew the ovation, not just this one special night.
Opening act Sixto Rodriguez has been a star since local label Light in the Attic rereleased his ’60s albums. He was more engaging solo than he was with a band at his last Seattle show.
“I Wonder” and “Sugar Man” were warmly received and so were his comments on how he was honored to open for Wilson.
“He’s an icon,” Rodriguez observed.
Everyone in Benaroya probably knew that before the show started. By the time the night ended, with sets by two legendary songwriters, they were certain.