Brian Wilson covering Pet Sounds with Al Jardine - Ottawa Jazzfest

Brian Wilson - Pet Sounds 50th anniversary

Brian Wilson's performance of the epic masterpiece Pet Sounds at Ottawa Jazz Festival didn't open with "Wouldn't it Be Nice" or close with "Good Vibrations" (a song that could have been on the album but is a literal finale to that album's period), it actually opened with "Heroes and Villains" and closed with a strong melody of Beach Boys' early stuff like "Help Me Rhonda" and "Surfin USA".

Pet Sounds is an incredible album and performing it live with the true arrangement wouldn't be possible, but it would be nice. Out of the 10 backing musicians on stage, there were at least 20 or so instruments between each multi-instrumentalist that could setup an infinite amount of permutations.  And they formed the perfect assignments for each track covered with players swapping from horn to guitar, or timpani to marimba depending on the essential demand.  It was tight.

Al Jardine's son also provided some familiarly vocal sound to the mix.  Brian didn't sing lead much, but he never did on the original recordings as he wrote songs like "God Only Knows" with his brother Carl's voice in mind.  But he lead that solidly, and the outcome corresponded perfectly with the song imprinted in the mind with counterpoint in other tracks, both vocal and instrumental, like "Sloop John B" being simply precise.

Pet Sounds is a gorgeous composition but it doesn't inherently encourage dancing, so the centre mass of audience members in lawn chairs would not be pulled out until the encore (after a freaking killer display of "Good Vibrations").  The MC for the band introduced each member, as they returned to the stage and played a different entrance bit for each (kinda like how Paul Shcaffer and the World's Most Dangerous Band would welcome a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman).  Finally Brian and Al returned to sort through some Beach Boys Classics. That's the moment when the lawnchairs were dismissed.

They closed out with Love & Mercy, a song Brian wrote while listening to "What the World Needs Now", yet the inspiration was depicted differently in the brilliant bio-pic "Love & Mercy".

Great finish.