Smile nightSo I am sitting here listening to my ‘copy’ of the Smile live concert! Reliving those great great gigs, here is the view from here for you! Well as best as I can remember it… Here goes…. Last year it was announced on the net that Brian would be coming over again… This time to present the smile album!! I informed my brother whilst we were having a beer to which he replied oh my God we have 9 months of this!!!

But then suddenly the 9 months had gone and I was to be found sitting opposite my friend Faye on a train headed for the gig! Now Faye is not the keenest of Beach Boy fan! We have had many a row over the Beatles vs. the Beach Boys!! We were staying at the Travel Inn. Our first port of call however was the Slug and Lettuce, lots of familiar faces were to be found there, and Faye was a little freaked by the fact that almost everyone in the bar was attired in Brian Wilson t-shirts… Or so it seemed. We went and checked in, then headed to the hall, had a mooch around there, just outside the hall we bumped into Michael Kemp, having e-mailed each other for ages it was great to put a face to the name! Met John and Judy in the hotel bar. It was a lovely surprise to see Susan Lang over from the States…. We then ambled back over to the hall. Milled around the bar for a while, chatting with friends and spending FAR too much on the merchandise.. Oh and the great privilege of seeing my name in the thanks you’s in the tour program!!!!!! Then the bell tolled so off to find our seats 4 rows from the stage, dead centre, Van Dyke Parks was a few rows back and looked so happy! What a class chap! The concert began, the curtain dropped and there was our main man sitting there with that wonderful band around him…. I’m sure everyone knows the set list by now… It was very apt to start with ‘Then your dream comes true’ as ours certainly did… Brian did look very nervous though, I noticed he kept checking his nails and running his fingers through his hair. But WHAT a night, some great unusual tunes, one of my favourites ‘Time To Get Alone’ was a major highlight for me, Hawaii sounded great! Jimmy was fantastic on those bongos! I loved the idea of that beginning kinda teasing everyone with what was to come!

Brian just before doing smile first time EVER!!After the intermission, the air was fraught…. Everyone seemed to be on the edge of their seats…. Faye was impressed so far!! Now I have to admit that I don’t listen to my Smile boots all that often! I guess because they are so fragmented, but after hearing it all flow and the wonderful arrangements well let me just say I can’t wait to hear the official release, be it live or studio, I see what Dennis meant when he said it was a grand slam!…. it even makes Pet Sounds seem dare I say it ordinary?! The Stockholm strings were great! You could see Brian get more confident with each track, like he was thinking, ‘yes they like it’ God knows you could certainly tell we LIKED it! Once Smile was over and they really rocked out, Faye and I headed down to the front of the stage for a major boogie! Dread to think what kind of sight we were, but we didn’t care… lets hope they didn’t catch that bit on film!!!!!!

me with Van Dyke Parks !!!!As we were leaving I managed to ask Van Dyke Parks to sign the poster, on which he put ‘Lucy I am home’ and drew that great caricature of himself. He had a tear in his eye! I have goose bumps just remembering it! Met up with Mike and John in the foyer and it was off to the Hotel bar! Taylor, Probyn, Scott and Jimmy from the band were there, they all looked really happy, I imagine it was a relief to have the first night over especially when everyone was so thrilled with what they had achieved! I chatted to Darien about it. It just proves that anything really is possible in this life, he being a fan like us and then being able to help those two great guys realise this masterpiece! What an hour! David Lead and his wife were also there; even the woman that Brian wrote ‘The Night was so Young’ for! She was lovely and chatted to us for ages… It is so strange to get to meet all these people for these brief moments, like you are entering another world which I guess to a degree I was! Headed back at about 3am… having managed to get most of the band to sign my poster, got some great shots too, see attached! Then back to the hotel and reality!

The next time I entered this other world was the following Tuesday. On Monday I got a call from John to say that he had a spare ticket did I want to go! Without hesitation I agreed, thankfully I was off Tuesday and Wednesday; I guess the Gods were on my side…. My family had a fit as I could not afford it by any means. But hey, this sort of thing does not happen very often and I for one was not going to let a little thing like money stop me! So once again found myself on a train bound for London, alone this time…. Found myself in the Slug and Lettuce again, but sadly no familiar faces this time. So ambled to the Travel Inn and who should I see in the bar but John Kirby (needless to say) plus lots of other friends, got myself a much-needed beer and chilled out with them for the afternoon… Got coerced by Phillip Larimer to appear in the fan video he is compiling dread to think how that little interview will turn out!! Headed over to the hall again. Martin was the guy with the ticket. His wife had just had a baby so was unable to go… great news for them and me but for different reasons! The concert was even better than the one on Friday, you could really tell that Brian was so much more relaxed and really seemed to be enjoying himself. There were a few celebs to be seen too, I saw Jonathon Ross in the bar adorned in riding boots and what appeared to be safari trousers!??

Paul Wellar & ChumPaul Weller was also there, and even let me get a picture of him and his mate for my friend Sarah who loves him. Paul McCartney strolled in and gave Sir George Martin a big hug. We had great seats again, I managed to get a few photos, hearing ‘Smile’ again I was able to appreciate it even more, it was a great show. You could see that the Stockholm Strings were having a great time too adorned in their little fireman hats.

Then suddenly it was all over again! Like a dream… we headed to the meet and great area. Val very kindly gave me her ‘meet and greet’ pass as I was able to get the great man to sign my poster so have now managed to get both Van Dyke and Brian’s autograph on that along with most of the band!!

I managed to get back to the hotel again for a few late night beverages with the band, Jimmy came and sat with us for a while. The thing is… they are all such great people, you can tell just by chatting to them that they really do realise how lucky they are to be in the midst of what I am sure will become a legendary tour, they are so willing to share it all with us’ obsessed fans… another late night then back on home on the train the next day, Newcastle to look forward to next!

Brian & bass opening night of smileAlmost two weeks have passed and I was eager to see the gig again, my Dad was my companion for this one. Having never been into pop music he has had to put up with Brian for nearly twenty-five years now! As it was 1979 when I first got the bug! He was looking forward to it, although annoyed it was on the same day as the Rugby. As if that was of any consequence!? we got a couple of hotel rooms just on the outskirts of town, checked in then got a cab over to the Pet Sounds record shop where John was holding a gathering of like minded folks. Jeffrey Foskett was there and waved hello as we entered, John had put lots of his prize possessions up around the shop, some great posters and records, it is a real Aladdin’s cave, we stayed there well into the afternoon, Jimmy and Probyn popped in as well, they seemed blown away by John’s items. Then back to the hotel so Dad could watch the Rugby. Met up with John and co at a restaurant opposite his house. Had a lovely pizza there, Gabriel to my right, Richard who had come over from Canada was opposite, I chatted to them, Gabriel was fraught at the thought impending gig. Having waited 37 years to hear Smile his stress was palpable! City Hall was a great venue it had a lovely Organ at the back of the stage, someone mentioned how cool it would have been if the band had known and made use of it. Just imagine what the bicycle rider section would have sounded like on THAT! Maybe next time! It was another great gig, we were on the second row, Jeff kept looking down and grinning at me, and at one point he gave me a wink and then turned his guitar around so I could get a great shot of the smile logo on the back,

Brian wore a scarf the whole time, not sure if he was feeling very well? Richard unfortunately from his seat couldn’t really see Brian’s face, so just before he sang ‘Surfs Up’ I suggested we swap seats, he sat there on the edge of his seat looking up at Brian, it was a great moment, Once it was all over it was a bit of an anticlimax as security swooped in and kicked everyone out! but I must mention what Dad’s words were afterwards… Brian was way ahead of his time with Smile and what a genius he is. I did laugh when they did the fire section as he had no idea what was going on, it was very funny. So that was that, no late night drinkies this evening just back to the travel Inn and crummy Michael Douglas movie. The final gig which was like last time for me the best one. The Symphony Hall In Birmingham, such a great venue, this time I had my friend Bob and also my friend Sarah and her chap David.  But I was very glad they came along as up until that night Sarah had no idea why I am so obsessed, Bob put on a Beach Boy compilation that I had made for him for the journey there, he and I were singing along whilst the two in the back were rolling their eyes, we met up with JK, Val, Andrew and Rob in the Piano Bar; oh and as we walked there we walked past Probyn who grinned and said Hi to us, Sarah said… ‘and so Sir George Martinit begins’ I wonder what the band make of us all turning up in these different locations? We had a few beers in the bar Harvey arrived and hit it off really well with Bob, as Bob knew of the band that Harvey used to be in. Ian then turned up, he was seated with us. we transferred to the other bar at the Hall, Tony Rivers was hanging out in the café so said hi to him, then for the gig.

Now Bob has told me many times of the first time he had heard the Beach Boys and it was ‘I get around in ’64’ and he was on a beach and he said it sounded ‘Marvellous’ I couldn’t wait for him to see it live. He was BLOWN AWAY by the gig. Dancing and singing. It was superb, Smile sounded better than ever it was sooo great to share this with my friends. In the intermission I got a few sheepish comments from Sarah and David, they admitted that they now ‘got it’ David is PR for Jools Holland and Coldplay so I said forget all about them this is the real deal. ‘Smile’ is awesome, Bob just loved it. Sadly John Porteous was unable to come to this gig, but had called me with the GREAT news that he had given a backstage pass to Tony to pass on to me. Tony had managed to lose it prior to the gig but once it was Me & Brian Wilsonall over and managed to find it in his pocket, so I was able to go and get Brian to sign a picture that I had taken of him on the first night and then Jeffrey Foskett kindly halted the queue and let me get a great photo of me with Brian properly, I even found myself with my arm on his back and he smiled. I donesn’t get any better than that!

Needless to say we had an altogether different journey home, with some much altered opinions on the back seat, and they were singing along with us this time. Thanks guys for such a GREAT few weeks, here’s to the next time… Roll on Oxford where we can; do It Again’ Happy Happy Days!