Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Smile, though your heart is aching...

Update from May 2006: This is a blog entry I never finished; rediscovered the draft of it just now and decided to finish the sentence I left incomplete and just end it there. This show was such a tremendous experience that I should at least leave some kind of marker here. Even today, two years later, I could still go on and on about it... but I won't. You're spared!

I fully intended to race home after seeing Brian Wilson and his band perform Smile in Toronto and write about the experience here while it was still fresh in my mind, but that didn't quite happen. Now three or four weeks have gone by, and if anything the memory has already transformed itself into the stuff of personal legend.

This wasn't the first time I'd seen the group; they shared a bill with Paul Simon at Darien Lake, one of those corporate amusement park amphitheater deals outside Buffalo, in the summer of 2000, and that one had been such a moving experience (I'd never wept all the way through a concert before) that I doubted the second time around could possibly equal it.

Boy, was I wrong. A big part of the power of the Darien Lake show was simply the thrill of seeing this guy for whom I have so much respect and empathy--an artist who'd finally triumphed over his long history of stage fright, mental illness, and fucked-up band/label politics--who had at long last found the ideal ensemble to play his music with respect and careful craftsmanship in front of an audience that could hear it for what it was. And what a band—one part Wondermints, one part latter-day BB touring types, all of whom sound absolutely amazing. [...]

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