It was a blast to the past at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, Thursday, Sept 12, when Brian Wilson and special guests The Zombies played the Something Great from ’68 Tour. The concert was recently postponed back in June due to Wilson’s health issues, but both bands were in great form Thursday playing under a full Southern California moon on a warm end of summer night.
Recent 2019 Rock and Hall of Fame inductees, The Zombies, opened the night with their indisputable psychedelic era sound hearkening back to the British Invasion days of the early 1960s. With two of the original members, keyboardist, Rod Argent and frontman, Colin Blunstone, the band tours regularly with additional members, however, on this tour, and on this night’s show, the lineup changed, as they were later joined by two other original members, bassist, Chris White and drummer, Hugh Grundy to perform the album Odessey and Oracle in its entirety.
Opening the show, The Zombies played Tell Her No and She’s Not There, two of their most commercially successful hits still garnering active airplay on radio stations today, and as a special treat, a new song off their upcoming album (that’s right these guys are still recording) Merry Go Round which reflects original Zombies style, but with a more edgier updated feel.
The audience, an interesting mix of Millennials to Boomers, were all there for their love of 60’s genre music. It’s always fascinating to see the span of generations attracted to a concert like this, and perhaps with The Zombies’ recent Hall of Fame induction they’re gaining more fans who appreciate their importance to rock music history. Either way, it was exciting to see so many younger fans rockin’ out to songs as old as, perhaps, their grandparents.
For part two, as announced, The Zombies were joined on stage by original members White and Grundy, and Brian Wilson and Friends’ keyboardist Darian Sahanaja where they played the entire Odessey and Oracle album from start to finish. Care of Cell 44, Beechwood Park and one of their greatest hits Time of the Season, were all received enthusiastically by the crowd.
The Zombies performed a tight set of their most important songs sung impeccably all night by Colin Blunstone with the energetic keyboard, organ solos and riffs by Rod Argent along with the additional players and return of White and Grundy. The performance was not merely a jaunt back to the 60s but a vibrant and entertaining performance that’s as viable today as ever.
The genius of Brian Wilson and the music he contributed is undeniable. Seated behind a white baby grand piano with Al Jardine and Darian Sahanaja at his side, Brian Wilson took the crowd through a history of Beach Boys’ classics. Backed by an orchestra of stellar musicians, the band opened with California Girls and I Get Around culminating in a 90-minute set that was both engaging and at times emotional .
Throughout the night Brian remained behind the piano aptly playing and singing on classics like God Only Knows, Little Bird and Good Vibrations albeit a teleprompter clearly in view, but at 77-years old and, you know the story, Brian Wilson gets a pass, because he’s survived and he’s still playing the music.
Having been quoted as saying Pet Sounds was a big influence, it was a delight when The Zombies’ Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent joined onstage for God Only Knows, as Blunstone sang and Argent leaped on the keys. It was clearly one of the highlights of the night. Singer and guitarist, Blondie Chaplin, who toured for many years with the Beach Boys, accompanied his old band mate on Sloop John B and Sail on, Sailor, as well as lending his vocals and guitar solos to Darlin.
Al Jardine, one of the founding members of The Beach Boys, has known Brian Wilson since their high school days in Hawthorne. His contributions to The Beach Boys as songwriter, singer and guitarist, is legendary and his love and dedication to the music is unquestionable. His presence on stage, next to Brian Wilson, is the driving force, and his performance was beyond incredible. Noteworthy was Al Jardine’s son, Mike Jardine, who carried on in Beach Boys tradition providing harmonies, leads and those sky high falsettos, as well as guitar and percussion.
Los Angeles audiences have come to know that quite a few rock icons live in Los Angeles or are here for a better part of the year, so it’s no surprise when someone of notoriety is waiting in the wings. Tonight’s show was no exception and not too surprising when legendary rock musician Billy Idol joined the band for Surfin’ USA and Fun, Fun, Fun. It’s no secret Idol has long held a love for American music and growing up he surely was influenced by the music of The Beach Boys, but the pairing of Idol in his leather jacket and Al Jardine in his Beach Boys attire was an odd visual, however it was just what the night called for and it worked.
As every band member stood in a semi-circle around Brian Wilson and the piano, they left the audience with one final song, a beautiful rendition of In My Room on solo piano and replete with harmonies. There were several times when Brian stopped playing piano but the singing continued, a capella, and not missing a beat – again the genius of Brian Wilson and a perfect ending to a perfect concert.
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Tell Her No
Merry Go Round
Edge of the Rainbow
She’s Not There
Odyssey and Oracle
Care of Cell 44
A Rose for Emily
Maybe After He’s Gone
Hung Up on a Dream
I Want Her She Wants Me
This Will Be Our Year
Butcher’s Tale (Western Front 1914)
Friends of Mine
Time of the Season
Brian Wilson & Friends
I Get Around
Don’t Worry Baby
Meant for You
Wake the World
Busy Doin’ Nothin’
Wouldn’t It Be Nice
Sloop John B
God Only Knows (joined by The Zombies)
Long Promised Road
Sail On, Sailor
I Can Hear Music (The Ronettes cover)
‘Til I die
Lookin’ at Tomorrow (A Welfare Song)
Heroes and Villains
Help Me, Rhonda
Surfin’ USA (Billy Idol guest)
Fun, Fun, Fun (Billy Idol guest)
In My room