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Concert Reviews:
Brian Wilson, Jeff Beck make for strange but pleasing musical bedfellows at the Fox

@graffonmusic, www.facebook.com/garygraffonmusic

Posted: Saturday, October 26, 2013

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DETROIT -- The combination of Jeff Beck and Brian Wilson on the same show looked odd on paper and certainly raised a few eyebrows among fans.

And, truth be told, it was much the same in the flesh on Friday night, Oct. 25, at the Fox Theatre.

But the pairing ultimately worked, with the vocal virtuosity and sophisticated popcraft of Wilson's music complementing guitar hero Beck's instrumental fireworks for the kind of variety once associated with the adventurous 60s bills at early rock venues such as Bill Graham's Fillmores and Detroit's own Grande Ballroom. It was, in other words, its own kind of fun, fun, fun.

Wilson and his 10-piece band -- which included fellow original Beach Boys Alan Jardine and David Marks -- certainly delivered a good time as they breezed through 20 songs in just 70 minutes, starting with an a capella "Their Hearts Were Full of Spring" and charging through timeless hits such as "California Girls," "Don't Worry Baby," "Sail On, Sailor," "God Only Knows," "Help Me, Rhonda," "I Get Around," "Sloop John B," "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and "Fun, Fun, Fun" as well as rarities like "Little Bird," "Darlin' " and "Marcella." Jardine led the way through the Crystals' "Then I Kissed Her" and a medley of "Old Man River" and "Cottonfields," while the orchestra-styled group insured that the instrumental "Pet Sounds" and the lavish "Good Vibrations" were executed with stunning accuracy.

Beck and his quintet, meanwhile, went for flash during their portion of the show, framing his lyrical guitar playing with tight musicianship and a sense of daring that seemed reigned in just a bit so as not to fly too far afield from Wilson's repertoire. He offered plenty of aggressive, heavy crunch on songs such as "Stratus," "The Pump," "You Never Know" and "Big Block," while the new "Yemin" flaunted some Middle Eastern flavors and a renditions of "You Know You Know" and Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" breathed with easy melodic grace.

Of course, things really got interesting when the two groups joined forces. During Beck's set, Wilson and the other singers from his band provided airy vocalic accompaniments to the guitarist's treatments of "Our Prayer" and "Surf's Up," while a trio of Wilson's crew provided some shouts during Beck's version of Hambone Willie Newbern's "Rollin' and Tumblin'." Both bands trooped onstage for the three-song encore -- with a 32nd birthday cake for Beck drummer Jonathan Joseph -- as Beck laced solos into the Regents' "Barbara Ann" and the Beach Boys' "Surfin' USA," the latter on slide.

The night finished with a rich rendition of "Danny Boy," the Wilson singers again providing wordless vocal support as Beck handled the standard's mournful melody -- a final twist in a night full of unusual but mostly successful musical adventures.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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