Good to see some of the new/rare cuts survive from the first show.
It looks like the shows are a little shorter now, at least in terms of number of songs. Though that may be in part due to "Feel Flows" being on the longer side.
Kind of a bummer, though, that Al is relegated pretty much to one song in the first set. Not that his turn on the car songs was ever my first pick for tracks for Al to do, but Al seems to be playing vocally an even more minimal part in the shows. His car songs are gone, his vocal turn on "Sail Away" is gone, and instead of getting, say *two* songs in the pre-Blondie part of the set (e.g. "Then I Kissed Her" and "Cotton Fields"), he just gets the one. So he's kinda just getting Cal Saga, Rhonda, and then his parts on the PS songs. Assuming he hasn't been given any leads that Brian previously sang.
At this stage, Matt and Blondie are arguably getting more lead vocal turns than Al. I'd almost assume Al has a cold or something and they're cutting his songs, but the two setlists we've seen so far are identical and nine days apart.
The new additions to the setlist are very cool, but I'm perplexed why Al is being given fewer and fewer leads.
Al's minimal participation has long been vexing.
I have to wonder though, has Al's profile risen considerably since he's been touring with Brian that he could possibly strike out on his own again? Al's first "family and friends" tours were coming off the back of the Beach Boys, but solo Brian appeals to a different kind of crowd that might have passed him over years ago.
I just don't think Al doing a lot of solo stuff is particularly viable. I mean, it is viable in theory. I've wished for years Al would do a nice club tour doing rare cuts and all of that. Seems very doable. But he doesn't seem interested in pursuing that, and before C50 and teaming back up with Brian, he had mostly just been booking the random gigs here and there, often teamed up with Dean Torrence and/or David Marks where he was doing mostly the "meat and potatoes" numbers. Al managed a few more unique gigs on his own, like his 2012 "Postcards" gig at the Roxy and his 2014 Rubin Museum NYC gig. I was in particular hoping that NYC gig in 2014 might be a good model for Al doing some select gigs like that here and there, even in between Brian tours.
I like Al's role in Brian's band. It's a stark contrast to how Mike's apparent feelings for Brian and living in Brian's shadow/legacy have evolved. Mike has become more inflammatory and adversarial, whereas Al got past the ego issue and happily supports Brian, taking a back seat both figuratively and literally. I love how Al and Brian are a team in the show, and it isn't like that 2005 Hawthorne landmark gig where they were both there but couldn't even share a stage, with Al awkwardly singing at a podium to a backing track plugging his children's book, etc.
I also get that it's a Brian show and I think they have to be sensitive to how critics might question if literally like 50 or 75% of a Brian show features other guys singing leads. But this is also essentially a "Brian Wilson Band" show, and essentially Brian's alternative "Beach Boys" in all but name, and I'm glad people have embraced Matt and Blondie and Al singing some leads.
So I wouldn't want to see Al break off from Brian's band. C50 was so awful for the band's public relationship, and Al and Brian sticking together is about the only warm and fuzzy left from all of that acrimony.
But I've certainly been advocating for several years now that an EASY and BRILLIANT solution to adding more songs, and adding more Blondie/Al content without overtaxing Brian would be to just stick a little mini set in the middle of the show where Brian can relax off stage.
In any event, it's just a bummer to see Al relegated to a couple of leads, and the same old leads to boot. I dunno, maybe Al is helping to make more room for Matt to be featured more prominently, and that isn't a bad thing of course.