The Beach Boys: Live -The 50th Anniversary Tour
Big, straight-ahead drumming opens The Beach Boys’ two-disc set Live:The 50th Anniversary Tour. With a spectacular backing band and the original boys (at least those still with us) including lead singer Mike Love, mastermind Brian Wilson, Bruce Johnston, Al Jardine and even the original Beach Boys guitarist David Lee Marks (who lasted in the band from its inception in 1962 through sometime in ’63!), this was a tour I caught and was truly amazed by.
The band and boys pluck through a first set of some very well-known early tunes, such as “Do It Again,” where Love sounds especially good, the jumpy “Little Honda” and the big vocal mix of “Catch A Wave.” Then we get classics like “Surfin’ Safari,” “Surfer Girl,” “Be True To Your School,” and “409.” But little gems like “Getcha Back” and “Wendy” and the truly spectacular Bruce Johnston tune (Bruce wrote “I Write The Songs” for Barry Manilow) “Disney Girls” are here too. All the songs sound perfect, with “the boys” in good voice and the band behind them spot-on.
Of course when you have a musician/vocalist like the underrated Jeff Foskett, the unsung hero behind live Brian Wilson performances for years, you can’t miss, really.
“Pet Sounds,” an instrumental title track to what many consider Brian Wilson’s pop masterpiece, opens disc two. This is the second half of the show, when I began to really be suitably impressed, as much by the performance of that backing band and the boys’ voices, as I was by the song selection. “Heroes And Villains” is here from Smile, with Brian Wilson sounding pretty damn great vocally (though he is often hard to watch as he sits rather stone-like at his piano or standing lumberingly playing bass). “Sail On, Sailor” is a wonderful roiling tune that cuts straight ahead through the early part of this second set, with those spectacular harmony vocals lifting Brian’s lead up to unimagined heights. “All This Is That” is a interesting gem, but wonderful nonetheless with Jardine on lead. We get the pretty “In My Room” and the single from the Beach Boys’ last studio release, “That’s Why God Made The Radio.” A perfect read on “Sloop John B” then a run through to the end of hits like “Wouldn’t It be Nice,” “Good Vibrations,” “California Girls,” “Help Me Rhonda,” “Surfin’ USA,” and even an unfortunate “Kokomo” (I know it was a hit, but this has got to be the weakest B.B. tune).