The first half of the show consisted of non-Smile material. Though Wilson's voice may be somewhat cracked - and his memory for lyrics assisted by prompter screens - he came visibly more to life with each classic, particularly California Girls and a heart-breaking God Only Knows.
Nothing, though, could prepare us for the second half. From the opening of Heroes and Villains, Wilson was a transformed man. Though still reading his lyrics, he sat taller, sang louder and waved his arms about to conduct the band. The atmosphere was truly electric, and the music echoed everything from Philip Glass to Kurt Weill to Chuck Berry.
It's nigh impossible to pick out songs, as it was all a glorious, tangled symphony of celebration and sadness - though the comical Vegetables and a transcendent Good Vibrations were incredible.
All right, Wilson did seem a man apart from the stage around him, but the glory of late Beach Boys was always the contrast between the fragility of his voice and his songs and arrangements.
Last night we witnessed that and so, so much more. Leonard Bernstein said Brian Wilson was one of the greatest composers of the 20th century: he was not wrong.
Sunday, February 22
And The Parts Of The World Which Matter Are All Right
This is wonderful news, indeed. The London Telegraph reviews Brian Wilson's long-awaited "Smile" concert:
Posted by Howard Hoffman at 9:02 AM