Monday, October 20, 2008

Brian Wilson at the Hollywood Bowl

My first concert in LA couldn't have been more Californian- Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys at the Hollywood Bowl. Known for its iconic band shell and also as the summer home of the LA Philharmonic, the Hollywood Bowl might be the best place to see a concert. From its beautiful setting in the Hollywood Hills to the tradition of taking along a picnic meal, the venue itself plays a huge role in the enjoyment of a show. I always dreamed of seeing a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, and this was the perfect opportunity. The tickets were as cheap as $10, graded on up to $114 for the best seats. I really appreciated the option for inexpensive tickets, which is unheard of these days in the rest of the concert industry, though not for the Hollywood Bowl. To this day, the venue still offers $1 tickets at the top of the Bowl for many Philharmonic concerts. My $12 ticket placed me 3 rows from the back, but there's not a bad view in the place. Though tiny, I had a clear sight of the stage and the Hollywood sign behind it (I later learned that if you're back far enough to see the Hollywood sign, then your seats are pretty bad...)

Billed as an 'End of Summer Fireworks Spectacular', Brian Wilson performed with his backing band The Wondermints and the LA Philharmonic. The show began like an orchestral concert, as the LA Phil performed a selection of Brian Wilson's favorite classical works:
Mozart- The Marriage of Figaro Overture
Bach- Toccata and Fugue in D minor
Gershwin- Girl Crazy Overture

From the intricate arrangements and orchestration of his Beach Boys tunes, it makes sense that Brian Wilson is an enthusiast of classical music, and it was interesting to hear the influences that come through in his songs. Next, Brian and his band joined the orchestra to perform a few songs from his new album That Lucky Old Sun. Even more so than his previous work, the record is a love letter to Southern California, and is filled with the trademark lush harmonies that he was known for with the Beach Boys.

Brian Wilson Sings A Love Letter To California- Performance and Interview on World Cafe

"Forever My Surfer Girl"

Video- Live Performance on Yahoo Music

Next, the group played 'God Only Knows'. For such a genius chamber pop composition, watching it live backed by the LA Phil seemed like the real way to hear it.
After an intermission, Brian Wilson and his band returned to finish the night with a mix of his solo work and Beach Boys favorites. Naturally, 'Do You Wanna Dance' got the crowd dancing the most, on top of the benches and down the aisles. And Californians are really proud of 'California Girls'. It was also a treat to hear the beautiful 'Our Prayer' segue into 'Heroes and Villains' from his album Smile. With the fireworks, feel-good songs, and beautiful setting, it was the perfect end of summer celebration.

Brian Wilson at the Hollywood Bowl- Live review from LAist

Some of my favorite Beach Boys songs:
'Don't Worry Baby'

Brian Wilson's ode to lost youth- 'Caroline, No' from the masterpiece Pet Sounds
"Where did your long hair go? Where is the girl I used to know? How could you lose that happy glow?"

'The Sad Song Awards'- a clip from David Cross and Bob Odenkirk's old sketch comedy program Mr. Show. The parody of 'God Only Knows' is spot-on, from the melancholy, boyish vocals to the accompanying percussion, though the spoof of Eric Clapton's 'Tears In Heaven' is pretty cruel.

1 comment:

Paul said...

That is one incredible "Welcome to California" concert. I'm really enjoying the more frequent blogging, keep it up. Oh, and happy Thanksgiving!