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!