Reliving the magic with Brian Wilson at the Tower Theater

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Brian Wilson | photo by Kate McCann for WXPN
Brian Wilson | photo by Kate McCann for WXPN

If you close your eyes, it sounds just like it’s 1967 in Santa Monica. Or Pacific Beach or Carmel-by-the-Sea; whichever California beach town you prefer. But when you look around The Tower Theater on this particular fall night in Upper Darby, the room is filled with Beach Boys fans who have certainly been singing along to these surf rock songs for decades. There are also 11 people on stage, instead of the original five, but still creating that same magical, harmonic sound.

Brian Wilson is seated front and center at his piano, like he’s done for weeks as he’s traveled around the country for the 50th anniversary of Pet Sounds tour. Al Jardine, former Beach Boy, is next to him on guitar. The crowd stands and cheers as the band comes out, and they open with “California Girls.” Every song ends in a standing ovation, even gooey ballads like “In My Room” and “Surfer Girl.”

Brian Wilson | photo by Kate McCann for WXPN
Brian Wilson | photo by Kate McCann for WXPN

Wilson does little talking over the course of the night, besides some introductions of band and thanks to the audience. Jardine gets nostalgic, though, reliving that time they “were invited to Monterey Pop and said no.” The audience, in general, gets there with him, reminiscing of when they maybe saw the original Beach Boys lineup over four decades before. Or maybe just on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Dozens of songs were played flawlessly by the band over two sets, often with half a dozen or more voices creating the familiar harmonies of “Help Me, Rhonda” and “Barbara Ann.” The audience soaked in Matt Jardine’s (Al’s son) tender falsetto on “Don’t Worry Baby,” while Wilson took backseat to one of his classic tracks.

Overall, it was unsurprisingly endearing seeing the dedication lifelong fans had to the brilliant songwriter and musician (it takes special people to want to hang out in Upper Darby on a Friday night). But seeing toddlers in sandals and college kids wearing leis let everyone know that the music would continue to be appreciated for decades to come.

Below, check out a gallery of photos, the setlist and a couple fan videos from Brian Wilson’s show at the Tower Theater.

Setlist
California Girls
Dance, Dance, Dance
I Get Around
Shut Down
Little Deuce Coupe
Little Honda
In My Room
Surfer Girl
Don’t Worry Baby
Salt Lake City
Wake the World
Add Some Music to Your Day
California Saga: California
Darlin’
Sail Away
Wild Honey
Sail On, Sailor

Pet Sounds:
Wouldn’t It Be Nice
You Still Believe in Me
That’s Not Me
Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)
I’m Waiting for the Day
Let’s Go Away for Awhile
Sloop John B
God Only Knows
I Know There’s an Answer
Here Today
I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times
Pet Sounds
Caroline, No

Encore:
Good Vibrations
Help Me, Rhonda
Barbara Ann
Surfin’ U.S.A.
Fun, Fun, Fun
Love and Mercy


 

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