Earlier this year I met Donovan. He was playing the Olympia as part of Sunshine Superman's 50th Anniversary tour, and after a very extensive double set, he sat at the merch table and signed virtually everything people put in front of him. I was pretty excited about meeting one of my all-time idols so I - like my friend Kerry said - "ruined it for everyone else" by proudly displaying a first US edition of his Sunshine Superman LP for him to sign. He froze for a moment, held it at a distance, and mumbled "I hadn't seen one of these in years...!"

Fifty years is a very long time indeed, and we should consider ourselves lucky that we're still able to catch some of the people who revolutionised pop music. There are some, like Bob Dylan, who I choose not to see live since the mystique they embody is so unbearably big I fear any form of direct contact could ruin the image I have of them. Others are larger-than-life songwriting geniuses, responsible for some of the greatest music ever made and performed, and you can't help but want to share a cubic centimetre of air with them.

There's no need for me to tell you how seminal Pet Sounds is (you should read William Tomer's excellent piece explaining why this is one of the albums that changed music forever), so despite being aware of Brian Wilson's rather fragile health due to a combination of his age and severe mental problems he had in the past, I was willing to take the risk of losing touch with the mystique in order to listen to this masterpiece performed live in full. I felt that, just like Donovan, his powerful aura would somehow renew me spiritually and restore my faith in the universe's perfection. After all, good music is supposed to be a quasi-religious experience.

Some of you may have caught the Pet Sounds celebration as part of a festival line-up like Primavera, and although the full album bit is the same, the rest of the show is considerably different when performed as a single-act gig. Brian and his band played two sets: the first one, featuring Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin, covered some of the Beach Boys' greatest hits, from 'California Girls' to 'I Get Around', passing through 'Don't Worry Baby' (with Al Jardine's son Matt delivering the falsettos), 'Dance Dance Dance', and other major surf-pop tunes. Although all the musicians are obviously very competent and the joie de vivre is still present when they play such feel-good songs, one can't help but feel a tired revival vibe throughout the first half of the concert, as if we were watching a very very good tribute band (the cynics might call it a "cruise band"). But if you look at it as Brian Wilson providing its own opening act instead of having some other group warming the audience up, boy was this quality stuff.

Brian still talks a lot, and pretty much calls all the shots. He explains what he's about to play, and you notice he doesn't like losing any time, or big changes happening (the line-up has remained pretty much the same throughout the tour). Al Jardine is still his excited self, and you can tell sharing the stage with Brian never ceases to be an overwhelming honour for him.

Ah, but when they come back for the second half and the first notes of 'Wouldn't It Be Nice' start to fill the air...! Harmonies join in, instruments appear from everywhere (I remind you there were never less than eleven people on stage), and layers and layers of sounds start piling up to form an ethereal corpus of musical beatitude. With a little help from Matt Jardine's backup falsetto, Brian runs through a collection of songs which I bet are still a painful reminder of his numerous breakdowns; after all, Pet Sounds is not a cheerful album -- it is introspective, meditative, and sometimes just plain sad. If you take some time to analyse it you understand the mess Brian's head was at the time he composed it; even the emphasis put on the 'Sloop John B' line "this is the worst trip I've ever been on" sends shivers down your spine.

Brian receives a standing ovation after 'God Only Knows', which he delivers almost by himself vocally: "please be sitted" he instructs us, clearly annoyed we took the liberty of disturbing the run-through plans with an unpredicted applause. Assured of how astounding his songs are, he introduces the album's title-track by calling it "the best drum song ever written." After finishing 'Caroline No' the band leaves, but everybody is expecting an encore anyway so they stand up and clap away. The band returns, and after an introduction of each member they dive into 'Good Vibrations'. They do a quick run through hits like 'Barbara Ann' and 'Surfin' USA' before Brian closes the show with a heartbreaking rendition of 'Love and Mercy'.

Seeing Brian Wilson in 2016 may seem unnatural for many, but the truth is we sometimes need a brutal reminder of how ephemeral human life is in contrast to how eternal art can become. I have no idea how much longer he will be able to keep this up (although he has already announced 37 new dates for 2017); it somehow feels like he is making up for all those years he lived in seclusion, isolated from the world both physically and mentally. Brian Wilson is spreading his art for as long as he can, and we should feel grateful for that. Because, as he said so himself, he really wasn't made for these times.