Just like many of his peers, Brian Wilson would rather that his focus be solely on music. Now 75, the kinda, sorta ex-but-not-ex Beach Boy continues to tour at the clip of nearly 90 shows per year. That’s impressive enough, but factor in his past of famously quitting live shows in 1966 to focus on meticulously crafting more ambitious songs, it’s kind of amazing that Wilson has done such an about-face.
For the better part of the new millennium, Wilson has had a career renaissance. His genius for arranging the intricate melodies, rhythms and harmonies that became instant addition to the great American songbook were finally recognized beyond corny boomers.
His latest tour in honor of the 50th anniversary of Pet Sounds is pleasant but necessary reminder of how substantial of an album it was. Though he doesn’t hit the notes like he used to, Wilson’s impassioned channeling of a kid trying to find his place in the world (he was just 24 when the album was released) continues to resonate all these years later. It’s something he’s proud of.
“I noticed that the crowds in Japan and Australia were very, very receptive to our music,” he says over the phone a few weeks before he began the final leg of the tour. “We did a good job and they loved it. It’s amazing that people still like it.”
Touring with fellow original Beach Boy Al Jardine and Beach Boys adjacent collaborator Blondie Chaplin, and Wilson’s longtime backing band, the Pet Sounds tour has been a triumphant victory lap. Wilson and company have sold out the Hollywood Bowl for the wine sipping Baby Boomers and performed to a packed audience at Pitchfork Music Fest for the hipster set. This year has seen him do another round in the States and headed back to Europe as well.
“The Europeans like us more than Americans do!” Wilson excitedly says of the reception they’ve received. “They’re more sensitive and more receptive to our concerts.”
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In the interim, following the final show of this tour at Pacific Amphitheater this Saturday night, Wilson is taking a quick break and after that, he’ll get back to writing a new album next month. He hasn’t thought about the direction, but Wilson did say it will be rock-focused. He released an anthology of his underrated solo material and included a couple of new songs as well.
Fans young and old have flocked to see Wilson perform these songs in sequential order for the final time. At least so he says. There’s no doubt that Pet Sounds songs will be a strong presence in future sets, but who knows how much longer that will go on for.
“I’m excited about doing it for a final time,” the tight-lipped musician says. “We’ve done it for a year and a half now. I’ve had a good time doing it.”
Brian Wilson performs at the Pacific Amphitheater on Saturday, Oct. 14. For Tickets and full info, click here.