Brian Wilson at Danforth Music Hall

California Dreamin' at intimate fourth of July show

BRIAN WILSON at The Danforth Music Hall, Saturday, July 4. Rating: NNNN

There were few better places to be on the fourth of July than the Brian Wilson concert, moved to the smaller, more intimate Danforth Music Hall from the Sony Centre. The Beach Boy’s songs now invoke a sepia-toned America, high on teenage feelings and sun-drenched beaches, but it can sometimes be easy to forget they actually defined that 60s era. Though Wilson is now in his 70s, his songs, baptized in the fountain of youth, have the sort of timelessness that could brand them classics even if they came out yesterday.

The 11-piece band (when featuring veteran Blondie Chaplin) couldn’t totally achieve the roof-blowing Wilson promised with Wild Honey, but they didn’t need to: few of the tunes really straddle rock ‘n’ roll. Instead, the real magic came from the flawless harmonies and meticulous arrangements in songs like Wouldn’t It Be Nice and In My Room. They ended the main set with a big, blasting version of Good Vibrations. But just before that, Wilson treated the crowd to “far and away the best song I ever wrote” – God Only Knows. If you closed your eyes and let yourself drift off, you might’ve felt the California sun beaming down on your face. | @MattGeeWilliams

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