Here comes the first dilemma, do I count a double bill show as one or two shows? The performers are very distinct and different and never play together, but, hey, they are on the same bill. Let’s put this question off until next May when I am short a couple of shows and need to start counting bands, not shows.
Back to the Mann Music Center for Brian Wilson and Rodriquez. If you have not seen “Searching for Sugarman,” you should absolutely watch it. It is this excellent movie about an artist who had a couple of albums in the 70s, achieved mild success, then packed it in and became a working stiff (like the rest of us). Unbeknownst to him, his music became the soundtrack for the anti- apartheid movement thousands of miles away in South Africa. He becomes this mystical creature and someone sets off to “find” him. It turns out not to be that hard, because he lives in Detroit. Anyway, he has found some newfound fame as a result of the movie and is now touring with Brian Wilson on some dates. I was excited to see him.
It was interesting. I was really intrigued by the movie and I was looking forward to seeing him. And his music was exactly the same and sounded just like his earlier albums, folksy with a touch of Bob Dylan interspersed with lefty politics. All good, except it was like time stood still and he was still in the 70s. There has been a lot of political music made in the last 40 years, but his is not some of it. In the late 80s early 90s, I went through a stage where I did not buy any music made after 1978, this would have been a good show to see back then, but not in 2015.
Though a bit disappointed but still glad we made the effort to get there early, I settled in for Brian Wilson. I had seen the movie “Love and Mercy” a couple days before and was starting to form a mild obsession with him, his story and his music. I had already been listening to his new album incessantly since I bought it months ago in preparation for the show. Additionally, just like Paul McCartney, I believe that “G-d Only Knows” is the greatest song ever written. (FYI- this will not be the last Paul McCartney similarity you will learn about). So I was pumped. Sadly, I was not impressed. His band was awesome. They were tight, fun and had great vocals, but Brian, well Brian is not the young Brian Wilson. And I knew that going in, but I guess the years of drug, recreational and medical, use really took a toll, but I just could not get past his slurring of words. It was just really uncomfortable and I felt somewhat exploitative watching him.
Sometimes that happens, you get really excited about a show and it just falls way below your expectations. Then, you have those shows, where you expect very little and are blown away. This is not the first time this has happened and won’t be the last. Ultimately it is worth it only for the shows you never see coming.
40 (or 39) shows to go, 336 days left…