Brian WilsonBrian Wilson at The Marquee, Cork, 4 July 2014

We reckon there were few places more joyful than The Marquee in Cork last Friday when Brian Wilson came to town. “It’s great to be here! Here in Scotland!” The elder statesman of surf rock wasted no time in setting the tone for the evening with a casual quip (we hope) as he settled into his piano stool from where he would hold court for the duration.

He brought along a veritable Beach Boys Sound System which impressively included fellow original band member, Al Jardine, making them a hefty 11-strong ensemble. They dived straight into California Girls which turned into a vigorous rendition of Dance, Dance, Dance and they kept them coming as long as curfew would allow.

The show was a real family affair in many respects. Not only did the good people of Cork turn out en masse with their smallies in tow, but Al Jardine managed to shoehorn his son Matt amongst the cohort. Where Wilson’s seasoned voice occasionally fell short, Matt’s vocal delivery was consistently superb. Particularly on his heart-warming rendition of Don’t Worry Babyso much so that we repeatedly found ourselves coming round from little daydreams of the Beach Boys’ heyday.

The group function as a co-operative with Wilson doling out lead vocal duty throughout the show to various band members including Al Jardine, Darian Sahanaja and Scott Bennett. The band played fluidly and seemed easy with each other as they rocked and rolled their way through Wilson’s arsenal of surf music standards, but their harmonising was rock solid right through.

Both Brian and Al appeared in fine fettle as they bantered the night away between songs, taking time to let the crowd in on their on-stage shenanigans. There was even a bit of audience participation when Brian called on the guys and girls in the audience to outdo each other. They stepped up the romance as the show drew to a close with an especially dreamy performance of Surfer Girl and we couldn’t believe that a live airing of God Only Knows could be so lovely.

Somewhat bafflingly, the show was intensely lit by hyperactive spots that didn’t quite fit the show’s ambiance. Perhaps Wilson had been recycling the Prodigy’s rig who had played at The Marquee a couple of nights before. The sound production at this show was a little less impressive than other similar events at the Marquee, but it was still pretty decent for a tent.

Though The Beach Boys’ history is troubled and often tragic, their legacy lives on hearteningly through their music. Their joy-inducing power proved timeless as Wilson & co. spread good vibrations through Cork and beyond.