The Beach Boys ‘add some music’ to Boston’s night

A review of The Beach Boys at the Bank of America Pavilion on June 26, 2012

, Contributing Writer

The young at heart and sunny of disposition were taken away from Boston harbor and transported to the sand and surf of the West Coast in the 1960’s when The Beach Boys’ 50th Anniversary tour stopped at the Bank of American Pavilion on Tuesday night. All around 70 years old, original members Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine and other ’60s additions David Marks and Bruce Johnston may not quite be considered “boys” anymore, but for one night, everyone in the pavilion was a kid again.

In a set that last almost three hours with an intermission and included more than 40 songs, The Beach Boys presented a long night of music with inevitable ups and downs. Things took a while to heat up for the original members, leading to a bit of a shaky start. With eight extra musicians on stage at any given moment playing more instruments than could be counted and up to twelve voices harmonizing at once, the sound was incredible, even if the original Beach Boys were not grooving too well. Perhaps more distracting than the problems on stage were the ones off: a set of beach balls for the crowd to toss around that failed miserably due to the fact that, plain and simple, this was not the time or place for such activities.

The show kept on chugging though, and improved as it did. After the first spate of six songs, Mike Love joked, “Now we’d like to take an intermission, followed by an nap”. Instead, he moved on to a “compromise” with Brian Wilson taking the solo on “Surfer Girl”. At various points throughout the show, the first being around halfway through the first set, the crowd came to the collective decision that it was time to sit down, but would get back on their feet for classic Beach Boys numbers like the no longer pertinent “When I Grow Up” and favorite covers such as “Why Do Fools Fall In Love?” and the slightly altered to suit a male lead “Then I Kissed Her”. Wilson also took the lead on one of the new group’s new songs, “Isn’t It Time”, which was notably written in a more vocally comfortable area for all involved. With each Boy taking his turn on lead vocals, each member began to find his groove. The first set finished with a plug for the group’s brand new album That’s Why God Made the Radio followed by a series of “hotrod” numbers ending with “I Get Around”.

After an intermission, the second and better half of the night began with a musical interlude leading into “Add Some Music to Your Day” with the rest of the Beach Boys gathered around Brian Wilson at the piano. Soon the night was moved into Pet Sounds territory. Though the stage design was simple, the band’s selection of old videos and photos to display at various points in the show proved to be one of the best parts of the evening. In particular, a few endearing clips made “Sloop John B” standout. The whole crowd got going for “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” but it was the following number, “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times” that finally brought out a little bit of joy in its singer, Brian Wilson, who from then on seemed much more engaged and happy to be performing again. The band quieted to allow The Beach Boys to have their moment during “In My Room” which preceded their latest single and title track off of the album, “That’s Why God Made The Radio”. The song is extremely reminiscent of classic Beach Boys, and Mike Love commented that though it had been a long time since they had been in the studio together to record, while putting together that track “It sounded like the ’60s again.”

The most moving part of the night was the tribute to now-deceased members, Dennis and Carl Wilson. Video of each individual performing showed as their original vocals mixed with the voices of stage for “Forever” and “God Only Knows”, respectively. Reinvigorated by the presence of their fallen comrades, the band jumped into a set of Beach Boys favorites from “California Girls” (one line of which was replaced with “Massachusetts girls” to the delight of the crowd) to their favorite covers including “Rock and Roll Music” and finally “Surfin’ USA”. Finally, the band’s three-song encore began with a trip down to “Kokomo” into “Barbara Ann” and “Fun, Fun, Fun” the latter two of which lead to Brian Wilson standing and playing bass for the first time that night.

The Beach Boys have been around for a long time, and touring in some way, shape, or form since the group’s birth. But for the 50th Anniversary, the group came together again, bringing the best of what they had put together on their own and creating a night of music that felt both authentic. It was as though the audience was witnessing their reunion in that moment, on stage, in front of their eyes, and all the trials and tribulations of the years past were put aside in favor of honoring the good memories and creating new ones.

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