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Brian Wilson and the Zombies' Something Great From '68 Tour


by Kevin Wierzbicki

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It was an evening to reminisce with memorable music from five decades back as the "Something Great from '68" tour starring Brian Wilson and his band along with opening act the Zombies made its way Sept. 6 to Comerica Theatre in downtown Phoenix. On a hot late summer evening temperatures hovered around 100 degrees outdoors but inside the theater Wilson brought the cool with images of fun on the beach while the Zombies chilled with their breezy, psych-tinged pop music.

As the name of the tour indicates, music from 1968 was spotlighted throughout the evening and the Zombies played their revered '68 Odessey and Oraclealbum in its entirety (the designer of the album cover misspelled 'odyssey' and the band never corrected it) along with a few other cuts. The four surviving members of the group's original line-up were all on hand but the players for the first three songs, big hits "Tell Her No" and "She's Not There" along with Still Got the Hunger cut "Edge of the Rainbow," were performed by the current Zombies line-up: singer and founding member Colin Blunstone, keys man and founding member Rod Argent, drummer Steve Rodford, guitarist Tom Toomey and bass man Søren Koch. Original Zombies Hugh Grundy and Chris White joined in for the Odessey and Oracle performance and the set was note-perfect, from the Beach Boys-like harmonies on opening cut "Care of Cell 44" to the album's end cut, the eerie smash hit "Time of the Season."

Brian Wilson's big 10-piece band took their spots on stage with Wilson, now 77-years-old, requiring assistance and the use of a walker to get to his piano center stage. Although Wilson had a lengthy battle with mental illness in the past, he is now strong of mind if not of voice. Wilson struggled with some of his vocals over the course of the evening but the show was not about Wilson's physical voice; this was an event to celebrate the music of the Beach Boys and Wilson's place in music history as one of the most influential American songwriters of all time. With fellow Beach Boys Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin in the band along with an array of younger players, Wilson and friends had no problem recreating a generous set of hits and album cuts, beginning the show with "California Girls," "I Get Around," "Don't Worry Baby" and "Darlin'".

In their homage to 1968, Wilson and his band played most of that year's Friends release, including the title cut, "Meant for You," "Wake the World," "Busy Doin' Nothin'," "Little Bird," which Wilson advised was co-written by his late brother Dennis Wilson along with Stephen Kalinich, the lush Hawaiian instrumental "Diamond Head" and "Be Here in the Morning" which Jardine intro'd as being "kinda quirky." Also in the set were "Sloop John B," "Wouldn't it Be Nice" and a tender reading of "God Only Knows" which Wilson introduced as "Paul McCartney's favorite song." Wilson did not speak much, doing so only now and then to introduce players or songs.

Two of the most stunning performances of the evening came from a less-familiar part of the Beach Boys repertoire as Chaplin took lead vocals on "Feel Flows" and "Long Promised Road," a cut he wrote with Brian's other late brother Carl Wilson. "I Can Hear Music," "Sail on Sailor," "Heroes and Villains" and "Surf's Up" were also performed in the show's midsection, and a selection of five powerhouse hits brought the show to a close: "Good Vibrations," "Help Me, Rhonda," "Barbara Ann," "Surfin' U.S.A." and "Fun, Fun, Fun." With consummate musicianship and Jardine, his son Matt Jardine, Chaplin and Wilson himself all contributing vocals, the classic high harmonies and beach-inspired melodies of the Beach Boys rang throughout the theater for nearly two hours, garnering Wilson and friends warm cheers and a standing ovation to finish the evening.

The Brian Wilson and Zombies show was a Live Nation event; they have lots of other great shows coming to the Phoenix area including:

Sept. 14 - Eric Clapton with Jimmie Vaughan - Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix
Sept. 26 - Peter Frampton with Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Evening - Comerica Theatre, Phoenix
Oct. 1 - Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience - Comerica Theatre, Phoenix
Oct. 11 - Dennis DeYoung of Styx - Mesa Arts Center, Mesa
Oct. 15 - Phil Collins - Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix
Oct. 25 - Joe Bonamassa - Comerica Theatre, Phoenix

Brian Wilson and the Zombies' Something Great From '68 Tour

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