Friday, March 02, 2007

Good Vibrations at the Infirmary

No doubt Cardiff Royal Infirmary will at some point suffer a "mysterious fire", get demolished, and be replaced with "luxury apartments" as part of some "prestigious development". Until that dreaded day arrives join me in basking in the former hospital's pop cultural significance.

Back in 1966 the Beach Boys (minus Brian Wilson who remained in California to work on Smile and his own nervous breakdown) had embarked on their first UK tour. They arrived at Cardiff's Capitol Theatre to promote new album Pet Sounds and their latest hit single Good Vibrations.

It was usual in those days for bands at the Capitol to perform twice - an early evening show and a late show. However four minutes before their first performance was due to begin catastrophe struck! Lead guitarist Carl Wilson badly cut his right wrist whilst over-zealously attempting to open a window. He had accidentally thrust his hand through a pane of glass.

The Cardiff gig was in jeopardy but the Beach Boys remained calm determined that the show should go ahead. Raiding the First Aid cabinet they managed to bandage Wilson's injured wrist and at the appointed hour the Californians took to the stage.

They played an eleven song set that included Barbara Ann, California Girls, and God Only Knows to a delighted audience. Carl Wilson struggled on manfully, strumming his way through hit after hit with bloodied wrist. The show climaxed with Good Vibrations.

As soon as the set finished Wilson legged it over to the Infirmary to have his wound properly attended to. It was a Saturday evening in Cardiff so heaven only knows what carnage he beheld at the hospital. Stitched up, he heroically returned to the Capitol in time for the second show.

The Beach Boys performed their final set with consummate professionalism, sending their Welsh fans into raptures. The gig continued without incident until Good Vibrations when an over-excited local girl jumped up on stage and attempted to snog drummer Dennis Wilson. She was ushered safely away and the show ended without further injury or bloodshed.