Brian Wilson

When Brian Wilson announced he would finally release SMiLE, the delayed-for-37-years follow-up to Pet Sounds, the talk surrounding the resulting tour was both enthusiastic and doubtful. While fans had fawned over bootleg studio tracks for decades, most could admit the sad truth: The guy just doesn't sing that well anymore. Fast-forward to the tour's huge U.S. debut at the Orpheum Theater where even those who expected a great show were blown away. Wilson, backed by a 10-piece band and a Swedish strings-and-brass octet, plowed through a non-SMiLE first set. When the group returned from intermission to perform his opus, the air in the room was completely still as the audience held its breath. Over the course of an hour, Wilson's pop orchestra successfully recreated the album's beautiful grandeur, while lightening the mood with goofy stage props--plastic firemen's hats, fake flames, and vegetables. Even the eternally uneasy-looking Wilson seemed to be having fun, bobbing his head in a manner that was almost autistic. And although it was noticeable when he missed the occasional note, the flawless ensemble backing him more than made up for it. Wilson created something much bigger than himself with SMiLE, and even his own shortcomings couldn't prevent people from falling in love with it.


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