THE BEACH BOYS 50th ANNIVERSARY CONCERT
FRIDAY, JUNE 22nd BANGOR WATERFRONT PAVILION BANGOR, ME
Review by: Matthew Joel Phillips
Fredericton, NB CANADA
With thunderstorms in the forecast, we were ready for a downpour during The Beach Boys concert at Bangor's outdoor Waterfront Pavilion on Friday, June 22nd. But instead of rain, the entire evening was an outpouring of emotion, especially towards Brian Wilson who rejoined the band for their 50th anniversary concerts this summer. Starting just after 8:00pm, the 47-song show was divided into two sets (with a short break in-between) and lasted for well over 2 hours, with not a drop of rain the entire evening.
It was an amazing show considering that Brian just turned 70 a few days earlier (and ever-talkative front-man Mike Love is already 71).
The current Beach Boys touring group is made up of:
• California pop band "The Wondermints" (amazing musicians and all huge fans of the Beach Boys music),
• Brian Wilson (on piano, harmonies, and some lead vocals), and the surviving original members:
• Mike Love (on vocals)
• Al Jardine (on rhythm guitar and vocals)
• "New guy," Bruce Johnston on keyboards on vocals (who joined in 1965 when Brian stopped touring)
• David Marks (who played rhythm guitar and sang harmonies on The Beach Boys' first 4 albums, and then left the group in 1962 after a disagreement with their manager... who also happened to be the Wilson's Dad).
• Rounding out the group is Jeffrey Foskett, who toured with the band for over a decade in the 1990s, who acts as a confidant to Brian Wilson, and apparently keeps the band harmonious. At the end of the show, my wife was able to snag one of Jeff's guitar picks (which resides proudly in a framed collage I made from memorabilia I got from the show).
I bought tickets to the show through VIP Nation and we enjoyed sitting in the centre block, eight rows back. For an extra $60 USD (over the regular price of a general admission ticket) the VIP Nation "VIP Tour Package" came with Beach Boys-branded totes, tour posters, T-shirts and special "VIP" souvenir tickets with a bright 3D look to them.
For this show I bought my first ever tour programme for $25 USD, and I can't wait to find time to read through it. (The signed version was an unapproachable $100 USD). Our only issue getting to the venue was forgetting our IDs (which we needed to claim our VIP package) and so we had to walk all the way back to the Hollywood Casino hotel to grab them. Thankfully, it was only a short (though stressful) 5-minute walk each way.
The backdrop of the concert was like a '50s diner (odd, considering the Beach Boys are the definitive '60s band) with huge red drapes on either side and an LCD video screen in the center. Full-size surfboards also adorned the back of the stage (and look to be the same boards I saw at their August 2010 show in Moncton, NB).
THE FIRST SET: The Beach Boys opened to the drums of John Cowsill (who has been a touring member since 2000) and "Do It Again", freshly re-recorded for 2012, and the first piece of new music we heard from the newly-reformed Beach Boys back in February 2012. For some reason, the new "Do It Again," never made it onto their new album (even though they re-recorded the song, and created a video for it).
Personal favourites "Little Honda" and "Wendy" (both from their 1964 album "All Summer Long") kept the first set humming right along, and seven songs in Brian Wilson took his first vocal lead on the romantic crowd-pleaser "Surfer Girl". A curious addition was 1972's "Marcella", a very '70s-sounding song tribute to Brian's old masseuse (possibly added because it was the last song to feature Bruce Johnston before he left the band from 1972-1978).
Rocking stage right, Al Jardine took his first vocal lead on "Then I Kissed Her" (a cover of The Crystals' song, which was also covered by KISS), but most people would recognize Al's voice for the lead on "Help Me, Rhonda" (which they played near the end of the concert).
Following in the middle of the first set, another "kiss" song: "Kiss Me, Baby" and then "Getcha Back", my wife's two favourite Beach Boys songs back-to-back.
We first dated in 1989/1990 and now that we're "back" together again, that song seems more poignant. Mike Love stretched his vocal chords and went down on one knee for the opening of "Be True To Your School" ("Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen... some loud braggart tries to put me down, and says his school is great..."), and then creaky sound effects played as David and Al slowly lifted him back up (a funny poke at their old age).
"The Ballad of Ole Betsy" came in near the end of the first set, replacing (I assume, from seeing previous set-lists) Bruce Johnston's wistful ballad "Disney Girls (1957)". And while I would have preferred to hear the latter, "Betsy" was sung beautifully by their musical co-director (and guitar player) Scott Totten.
The first set ended as it had begun, with some of their earliest hits, and finished with 4 straight "car" songs ("Little Deuce Coupe", "409", "Shut Down" and "I Get Around", which was their first number one hit in the USA).
THE SECOND SET: The instrumental from the Pet Sounds album opened the 2nd set, followed by "Add Some Music" (their melancholy 1970 "hit" that barely cracked the Top #50) and then four more songs from the Pet Sounds album. All of the original Beach Boys gathered around Brian's white piano at stage left to sing during "Add Some Music"(and one of the only times I recall David Marks putting aside his guitar).
Two of my favourite Beach Boys songs from the 1970s followed: "Sail On, Sailor" (a musical and lyrical collaboration of Brian and long-time friend and poet Van Dyke Parks) and "All This Is That" (a song inspired by The Beach Boys' meditation trip to India with The Beatles).
The original "Sail On, Sailor" (from 1973) was sung by one-time Beach Boy Blondie Chaplin, a South African singer/songwriter/guitarist who now tours with the Rolling Stones. Brian Wilson did his best singing the live version, never taking his eyes off the teleprompter, for one of the most lyrically-challenging songs to sing.
The big LCD screen played old clips and the official video for their new single (and next song in the set-list) "That's Why God Made The Radio", and then Brian took another lead vocal on "In My Room", one of The Beach Boys' purest songs. Gone but never forgotten Wilson brothers Dennis and Carl took virtual vocal leads on their signature songs, "Forever" and "God Only Knows", while vintage clips from each brother were synced up to the live music.
Throughout the evening, Brian was shy and usually left the stage immediately after a set was done (or he wasn't needed), and at one point during the concert appeared to yell something about the teleprompter over his mic. Also of note: the lyrics for 1985's "Getcha Back" were duct-taped to the floor of the stage in front of guitarist Jeff Foskett. At the end of the night, Brian Wilson took center stage on the last 2 encore songs ("Barbara Ann" and "Fun, Fun, Fun") holding a white bass guitar and rocking grey sweat pants. A brave send-off for one of modern music's once most reclusive musical geniuses.
- Do It Again
- Little Honda
- Catch a Wave
- Don't Back Down
- Surfin' Safari
- Surfer Girl
- Then I Kissed Her (The Crystals cover)
- Kiss Me, Baby
- Getcha Back
- Why Do Fools Fall in Love (Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers cover)
- When I Grow Up (to Be a Man)
- Please Let Me Wonder
- Isn't It Time
- California Saga: California
- Cotton Fields (Lead Belly cover)
- Be True to Your School
- Ballad of Ole' Betsy
- Don't Worry Baby
- Little Deuce Coupe
- Shut Down
- I Get Around
- Pet Sounds (Instrumental with only David )
- Add Some Music to Your Day
- Heroes and Villains
- Sloop John B
- Wouldn't It Be Nice
- I Just Wasn't Made for These Times
- Sail on, Sailor
- All This Is That
- That's Why God Made the Radio
- In My Room
- God Only Knows
- Good Vibrations
- California Girls
- All Summer Long
- Help Me, Rhonda
- Rock and Roll Music (Chuck Berry cover)
- Do You Wanna Dance? (Bobby Freeman cover)
- Surfin' USA
- Barbara Ann (The Regents cover)
- Fun, Fun, Fun
For more information on the Beach Boys, visit their website at : http://www.thebeachboys.com/#biography