The band started in a little acoustic huddle stage-left to open the show, supplying banter reminiscent of the Beach Boys Party album, but not quite as chaotic. They then moved to their instrument spots on stage, joined by the Stockholm Strings and Horns (for one or two numbers, I think) and then a few more before an interval. The sounds and harmonies were sublime, a hive of instrumental activity on stage with Brian seemingly a calm epicentre, like a magnet drawing it all together.
The Smile section was stunning. This was not a set of songs, but a piece, a movement (or three) worthy of the old masters. It could have been so disappointing with the promise of 37 years built up behind it, but it completely came alive. It really was like being taken on an intricate musical adventure. It was fun as well, with saws, hammers, drills, fire hats and vegetables bringing an almost surreal circus-like quality to the affair and the enjoyment on stage infecting everyone. At one point, I think during Good Vibrations, a white light hit the central cross-beam of the lighting rig and produced a cross above Brian's head, just as a small crowd in the front stalls rose to their feet overcome by the utter excitement of this beautifully constructed song. I hesitate to laugh at the obvious analogy (amusing as it was), because it really was an almost religious experience.
After the Smile section the band returned for more Beach Boys (with an appearance by lyricist Van Dyke Parks), and a final encore left everyone with the beautiful Love & Mercy. There was a warm but fairly quiet buzz as people left the RFH, and as we made our way to Waterloo East, and the crowds thinned, we'd spot the occasional person clutching their square white Smile booklets, with a distant look of awe in their eyes, almost like they were in mild shock. My mind's been trying to recreate and hang on to the images and sounds of Sunday evening, but it's fading fast. But I know something great happened. Roll on the DVD so I can confirm it!
"Based on the evidence of The Rainbow Orchid, the next five or ten years will make Ewing a creator to watch. I predict that if he can keep up a steady rate of production he will easily outgrow the problems presented herein. I would be greatly surprised if the coming years did not see him graduate to the full-size album format he clearly longs to achieve. On that day we shall hail Ewing's arrival, but that day is yet to come."
Other entries include adverts for Cosmorama in Speakeasy, Kerrang! and Metal Hammer, £5 to the League of Crafty Artists (whatever that was), tickets for Koancon in Coventry and UKCAC 88, £12 for the Poll Tax (another later is for £160), £49 for a wah-wah pedal, £10.80 cremation fee for Toby, my cat, £50 cash to go and see The La's in Brighton, £12 to Greenpeace, £1.50 to Luke Walsh for an issue of Zum, £255 for an acoustic bass guitar, £7.50 to go and see Antony Sher in Tom Stoppard's Travesties at The Barbican and £10 for a subscription to Andy Brewer's Battleground.