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The Beach Boys @ PNC Bank Arts Center, 6/27/12

Celebrating their 50th anniversary, supporting a new CD That’s Why God Made The Radio the boys: songwriter/leader/producer/bassist/vocal architect Brian Wilson; lead vocalist, stage- prancer Mike Love; guitarist/vocalist Al Jardine; guitarist (joining in 1962 and leaving but a scant time later ) David Marks and ‘newest boy’ Bruce Johnstone (having joined in 1965) fronted 9 musicians behind them (2 who stood-up front on stage with them, and one, Jeff Foskett who is pretty much the vocal center of things these days) at the PNC Arts Center in Homdell, NJ to run through a two-and-a-half hour show of what you’d pretty much expect, and a few instances of tunes I was surprised to hear.

The first set seemed to go rather quickly, had a couple of covers in it like “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” but with those backing musicians laying down a note-for-note read, the songs sounded perfect. For me, the ending medley, the “charging up the hot rod” songs as Mike Love said, “Little Deuce Coupe,” “409,” and “I Get Around” kicked some serious butt and left us ready for the second half.

With the screen behind them displaying the Pet Sounds album cover, the spectacular second half began with David Marks and the backing musicians running through an instrumental “Pet Sounds.” The guys stood around Brian and piano adding great harmonies on “Add Some Music To Your Day” (I was checking out the backing musicians for a hint of their vocal contributions and although they laid down a nice backing the guys upfront did the heavy vocal lifting, especially Jardine, Johnston and Foskett), then great takes on “Heroes and Villains,” “Sloop John B,” a truly fantastic “Sail on, Sailor,” the oddity “All This Is That” (which I truly appreciated like Johnston’s “Disney Girls” in the 1st set) and “In My Room.” The ‘tributes’ to departed members Dennis & Carl Wilson were a bit creepy as the band played to video of those guys singing “Forever” and “God Only Knows” respectively (kind of like that holographic Tupac thing that was trotted out recently) but I can see why it was done.

The show rolled to a close with a slightly stunted “Good Vibrations,” Jardine sounding dazzling on “Help Me Rhonda,” “Rock And Roll Music” “Do You Wanna Dance?” and “Surfin’ USA” with the encores, “Kokomo” (not Love’s finest moment) and “Barbara Ann.”

You’re not going to get many chances to see this particular line-up of this true American institution and one that is sounding this great presently so I suggest if you have yet to see the Beach Boys on their 50th anniversary tour you might want to get yourself to a show.

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One Comment

  • Dick Shattuck
    25 Jul 2012 | Permalink |

    I find this to be an overall decent review, but I do have a couple of objections. “Jeff Foskett who is pretty much the vocal center of things these days”, is totally inaccurate… he leads one song in concert (“Don’t Worry Baby”), doubles Brian in places, & just about always takes the falsettos that 70-year olds can’t be depended to hit. Al Jardine is a terrific vocalist for ANY age, and Mike Love very capably handles the leads he originally sang… which is a bunch. Brian has been spotty in concert for years. The two times I saw this tour (both before and after this particular show), he was just acceptable the first, and generally very good the second. But he’s still BRIAN WILSON and many fans of the group are just thrilled to see him performing with the others.

    I think that, rather than “creepy”, the two tributes were emotional and touching. I found them to be very tastefully done… the present band simply backing up the two who are no longer with them; a chance to recognize their talents a final time. To each his own, however…

    “Kokomo” (not Love’s finest moment)” What’s the purpose of this statement? Just to take a dig at Mike Love? At both shows, the song was very well-received… it probably introduced a number of people to the Beach Boys in 1988. (Not my personal favorite, either, and I feel there are better choices for the encore.)

    I feel that the band exceeded my expectations and has given us far more in this “celebration” than we could have possibly expected. Thanks for the review.

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