Brian Wilson brings the hits to Lynn Auditorium

This article was published 3 year(s) and 8 month(s) ago.

Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson performs at Lynn Auditorium on Friday. (Spenser R. Hasak)

LYNN — There were plenty of good vibrations in Lynn Auditorium Friday night, as Beach Boys maestro Brian Wilson and his sensational 10-piece band thrilled a near-capacity crowd for nearly two hours.

It was alarming when Wilson, 77, arrived on stage, using a walker and assisted by band members, and seated at his white grand piano. It’s tough to see our music heroes get old. Mental health issues were cited as the reason this show was postponed from last April. 

Wilson was hesitant at first, easing his way into his impressive songbook. But the band and “We love you, Brian” chants from the audience energized his performance, which got stronger as the show progressed.

This band is something else, perhaps the best touring outfit in pop music today. Like the champion New England Patriots, every member does his job and you know they’ll have Wilson’s back if he starts to falter.

When Wilson appeared at the auditorium in the spring of 2017, the focus was on “Pet Sounds,” the innovative 1966 masterwork that is considered one of pop music’s finest achievements. 

It was nothing but the hits on Friday night. After a snippet of “River Deep, Mountain High,” the Ike and Tina Turner hit produced by his idol Phil Spector, sung by Blondie Chapman, the band jumped right into “California Girls,” with everyone in the audience adding harmony vocals.

Then it was one hit after another, 27 in all, spanning Wilson’s Beach Boys years and his solo career. “I Get Around,” a series of car songs (“Shut Down,” “Little Deuce Coupe,” sung by Al Jardine), the glorious “Surfer Girl,” “Don’t Worry Baby,” sung by Matt Jardine, son of Al, who hit  all the sweet high notes).

Wilson really hit his stride about one-third of the way through the show. The lively “Do It Again” got the crowd clapping along. 

Chapman’s electric guitar fueled a mid-set trio of songs (“Feel Flows,” “Wild Honey” and the sublime “Sail On Sailor”). It was jarring at first, following so many harmonic two- and three-minute Wilson nuggets, but it invigorated concertgoers.

The harmonies during “I Can Hear Music,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” with Matt Jardine singing lead, and “Sloop John B,” a loud sing-along, were magnificent. “This is the BEST trip I’ve ever been on,” sang Al Jardine, altering the lyrics, drawing cheers.

Wilson took control for the rest of the show. One of the prettiest songs in American pop music, “God Only Knows,” with flute and French horn adding tenderness, hit the heart and soul. Audience participation was off the charts for the remainder: “Good Vibrations,” “Help Me Rhonda,” “Barbara Ann,” “Surfin’ USA,” and “Fun Fun Fun” were enlivened by everyone in the band, some 1,800 fans and even opening act, the Andrea Magee Band, onstage singing along.

The evening ended with Wilson delivering a solid version of the piano ballad “Love and Mercy.” “Love and mercy, that’s what you need tonight/So, love and mercy to you and your friends tonight,” he sang to the loving, supportive fans who realized how lucky they were to see this American music giant in concert one more time. Perhaps for the last time.

Andrea Magee and band opened with an excellent, upbeat short set. The Belfast-born singer, who’s quite adept playing the bodhran Irish drum, and her three bandmates, wowed with their version of the oft-covered “Down to the River to Pray” and four original tunes.  

More Stories From Lynn