I dived deeply into the history of the LA Pop Music scene this weekend.
First I saw the new film Love And Mercy, the complicated story of tortured musical genius Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys. The film jumps back and forth between Brian at his lowest mental paralysis following the untimely drowning death of his brother Dennis in the 1980’s, and the very troubled time when Brian assembled his greatest masterpieces, the album Pet Sounds and the single that took a full 6 months to create, “Good Vibrations.”
Paul Dano plays the young Brian brilliantly. The film perfectly illustrates Brian’s emotional collapse, fear of touring, and his tepid relationship with fellow Beach Boy Mike Love (Jake Abel), who fights Brian on his every attempt to break thru from the Beach Boys well moulded surfing sound. Elizabeth Banks is very convincing as Brian’s future wife Melinda,in the 1980’s scenes.
Paul Giamatti is brutal as Brian’s “guardian.” John Cusack is competent as the 1980’s Brian, but nowhere near as dynamic as Paul Dano playing the 1960’s Brian. Most of the characters strongly resemble the people they are portraying both in looks and personality. Brian’s father Murray (Bill Camp) is both scary and abusive, especially in 1969, when he sells the rights to all the Beach Boy songs for a paltry sum, claiming “no-one wants to hear them anymore.” This crushes Brian, but also proves to be totally untrue, as the songs still resonate for many generations, now 50 years later.
This was proven completely when classic Beach Boys rocked the stage at The Greek Theater last Sat. night, as Brian Wilson took the stage for his summer tour. Joined by his lifelong friend and original Beach Boy Al Jardine who sounded great belting out “Help Me Rhonda,” “Cotton Fields” and “Then I Kissed Her.”
Brian brought on another former Beach Boy, Blondie Chaplin for “Sail On Sailor.” Jardine’s son Matt sang lead on “Don’t Worry Baby” and Brian took charge on his masterpiece work “Good Vibrations,” “Surfer Girl,” “California Girls” and many more.
It was a well orchestrated show, and Brian never sounded better than ever as he celebrated his 73rd birthday. By the way, Brian obviously really liked the Love And Mercy bio film on his life, as he had a poster for it prominently placed at the front of the stage for the entire evening.