Brian Wilson Breaks Out Beach Boys Classics for ‘Love & Mercy’ Release Party

Imagine being serenaded by Brian Wilson with a bucket list of Beach Boys classics by an 11-piece band, replete with those timeless celestial harmonies, in a room that could barely hold 150 people or so. It’s not fantasy; it’s what happened on Monday night at Vibrato Grill Jazz in Bel Air, where the filmmakers behind “Love & Mercy” — about the making of Wilson and the Beach Boys’ magnum opus, “Pet Sounds,” and Wilson’s later dysfunctional relationship with therapist Eugene Landy — celebrated the DVD release of the film.

Cast members Paul Dano, who plays the young Wilson, and Elizabeth Banks, who plays Wilson’s salvation and later wife Melinda Ledbetter, were in attendance, as was the film’s director Bill Pohlad and other luminaries like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the star of “The Walk.”

Banks told Variety that upon first reading the film’s script her first reaction was “‘Holy s—, I didn’t know any of this!’ It was an education for me.” She was also wary of the degree of patience and generosity displayed by her real-life character. “I didn’t really trust it. And then I met Melinda and I fell in love with her.”
Brian Wilson, Paul Dano and Al Jardine perform. David Buchan/Variety/Rex Shutterstock

That love was evident during the mini concert when Ledbetter, who was sitting at an adjoining table, and Banks bonded during a set that included such gems as “In My Room,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “God Only Knows.” Wilson himself looked spry behind a Yamaha keyboard, leading a band that included all manner of instrumentation, from two other keyboards to two drum kits, two guitars, tuba, woodwinds and tambourine. Dano joined the group to sing, quite beautifully, “You Still Believe In Me,” standing alongside original Beach Boy Al Jardine.

Things got so excitable that Wilson had to stop the band, temporarily, to slow the tempo on “Good Vibrations.” By the time the ensemble broke into “Fun, Fun, Fun,” Banks and Ledbetter were dancing together like lifelong pals.

(Pictured: Melinda Wilson, Paul Dano, Brian Wilson and Elizabeth Banks at the “Love & Mercy” party)

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