Brian Wilson at the St. George Theatre
35 Hyatt Street
Staten Island, NY 10301
Brian Wilson was the primary singer, songwriter, and producer for the Beach Boys, and is also one of my primary musical influences and heroes. After years of mental and legal drama, Wilson returned to regular touring in 1998 and made numerous touring appearances in NYC over the years.
By the time of his holiday tour in 2018, the 76-year-old Wilson was in frail health, with both limited mobility and vocal capability. At this point, Brian Wilson concerts had become more like performance art than concerts, with Wilson as an ornamental presence spending most of the concert sitting at the piano staring at the teleprompter while his band faithfully reproduced the sounds he had created as a young man over a half century earlier. When he did manage to sing lead on a verse or two, the crowd starts applauding for encouragement and in relief that he still had a little something left. He did seem to enliven a bit when singing his newer material, perhaps indicating that an additional challenge for him is simply boredom with recapitulating the same material he had been performing on and off for his whole adult life.
Perhaps we came primarily to pay homage, and maybe we asked too much by continuing to pay to see him in such a diminished state. But it was nice to see him, perhaps one last time.
Next: 2018 Midterm Election