2 Original Beach Boys in the house Friday night: Brian Wilson and Al Jardine. Wilson, of course, is the man most responsible for creating the SoCal group’s signature sound during the 1960s. Joining him on this Pet Sounds 50th Anniversary Tour is Jardine, a boyhood friend of the Wilson family and another of the band’s founding five. The other survivor, Wilson’s cousin Mike Love, owns the rights to the Beach Boys name and still tours under that banner.
11 Additional members of Wilson’s backing band. Chief among them: singer/guitarist Blondie Chaplin, an official member of The Beach Boys during the 1970s who took lead vocals for songs like “Funky Pretty” and “Sail On, Sailor” on Friday. Some of the other musicians are members of longtime LA-based power-pop outfit the Wondermints, and the night's ensemble included one Vegas Valley resident, multi-instrumentalist Billy Hinsche.
2 Jardines onstage. Wilson’s touring lineup also includes Al’s son, Matt, who handled falsettos and high harmonies brilliantly throughout both sets. A case could be made that no one—Wilson, Jardine and Chaplin included—made more of a musical impact on the night’s proceedings than the younger Jardine.
37 Total songs performed, including a slew of mega-hits (“California Girls,” “I Get Around,” “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” “Fun, Fun, Fun”), a few transcendent highlights (an “Our Prayer”/”Heroes and Villains” pairing to open the show, the sublime “In My Room”) and a smattering of deeper cuts (“Wake the World” from 1968’s Friends, “Add Some Music to Your Day” from 1970’s Sunflower, the title track from 1967’s Wild Honey). As expected, the ubiquitous radio songs got the loudest reaction from the mostly older, seated audience, but respect was generally paid throughout.
45 Minutes of aural bliss, as Wilson led his band through iconic 1966 album Pet Sounds in its entirety during Set 2. Five decades after its release, the record remains a pillar of compositional advancement, and as the dozen-plus men onstage stacked up instrumental and vocal layers, its blend of lyrical innocence and sonic complexity reminded us of Wilson’s vision. To be sure, the 74-year-old struggled vocally at times, especially while filling in for his late brother Carl on “God Only Knows,” but his presence at the head of Pet Sounds’ formidable musical phalanx more than made up for it.
12 Years since Wilson last played a full album in concert in Las Vegas. On November 1, 2004, Wilson brought his finally finished Smile project to Boulder Station’s Railhead, and the results that night were even more hypnotic than those from Friday night. For his next Vegas appearance, how about he opens with Pet Sounds, returns after intermission with Smile and leaves the Beach Boys’ fun-in-the-sun hit parade for the encore?