50th Anniversary in London [ No Label CD ]
Introduction / Do It Again / Catch A Wave / Surfin’ Safari / Please Let Me Wonder / Then I Kissed Her / Isn’t It Time / Why Do Fools Fall In Love / Don’t Worry, Baby / I Get Around / Heroes and Villains / God Only Knows / Wouldn’t It Be Nice / California Girls / Good Vibrations / Help Me Rhonda / Rock and Roll Music / Surfin’ USA / Barbara Ann / Fun, Fun, Fun / ‘DJ talks and comments from fans’ / DJ talks / God Only Knows / Interviews. [ 77:39 ]
Live at the Mermaid Theatre, London, UK. 24th September 2012.
Welcome to the latest installment in the continuing love / hate relationship drama of the cousins Wilson and Love. Capturing the British end of radio promotion for their 50th anniversary tour which was quickly drawing to it’s first conclusion.
Recorded at the Mermaid Theatre ( Quite apt! ) in London for BBC radio 2 and broadcast on the 24th of September, 2012, the No Label productions crew present an excellent FM broadcast for this truncated version of the Beach Boys mighty 55 song setlist on the current set. It features one new song from the ‘Thats Why God Made The Radio’ album and a large swathe of some of the best songs from the Beach Boys bountiful stockpile, if not some of the best pop songs ever written.
Beginning with a chunky version of “Do It Again” it’s almost as if, if you’d not heard the Beach Boys live since, say, 1973’s “In Concert” release or one of the early 80’s live outings such as Knebworth or some such, that not much as changed give or take the gravitational pull on a few vocal chords – even Mike Love’s voice sounds kind and avuncular and less like the cocksure jock who was snide about, well, pretty much everything apart from his own brilliance.
Sure they were touring with Brian’s hot shot band of youngsters so it’s more or less guaranteed that the music played was going to be done justice but, as the 5 remaining original band members show, time doesn’t wither joviality and we romp through an exciting and excited 20 track preview of the bands Wembley stadium tracklist.
“Catch A Wave”, the chugging ode to the bands marketing ploy in the early days ( It doesn’t matter that the original band member who did surf was the first to leave. ) crashes straight in to one of the bands first catch all hits and the title of their debut long player “Surfin’ Safari”.
One of the gangs most Spectorised productions follows in “Please Let Me Wonder” and Brian’s first vocal this hour. To say he’s been through the storm of depression, blackmail, drug abuse, stage fright, et al, his voice still sounds resonates within the song like an old friend. Sure, it won’t ring like it used to but none of the voices do. Brian’s voice is still the friend you knew of from “In My Room” all those years ago but it has followed you around and become as careworn as your own voice has.
The new track from the gathering is “Isn’t It Time” a title that would just slot slot right in to the 1967 – 1977 era Beach Boys catalogue. of course the band aren’t going to become all new wave on us and start to drop raps between the verses but who would want that anyway? It’s a perfectly acceptable piece of new – nostalgia.
Two titan twins of music follow as we receive “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” and “Don’t Worry Baby”. Not as much crowd pleasers maybe, or not at least played for the audience as much as pointer to the bands roots and because this was the music that they marveled at when they were at the infant stage, Brian playing at the family’s piano working out what it was that made these songs grab him.
These songs are followed by a ricochet of power around Brian’s most fecund period – like a stream of light between “I Get Around” zinging through “Heroes and Villains” and straight on to “God Only Knows” – Commerciality crashes in to weirdness and falls for romance. It took lesser bands a lot longer to play catch up with the spiral of creativity that was forcing itself from Brian’s mind in the 60’s and in just 3 cherry picked songs we’re blessed with a spectrum of wonder and awe. Possibly just as heartening is Brian’s thanks at the end of “God Only .. ” as, at the very least he almost sounded way out of his depth up until the first ‘SMiLE’ tour and only came alive of sorts when the music struck up. Tonight he sounds like he’s having the best time of his life and his little chuckle as he pretends to shy from his adulation is a resolute joy to hear.
The rest of the set is taken up by a more regular surfeit of sunshine, vibes and good times. Hit follows hit follows hit, but it’s all majestic stuff – witness those opening chords to “California Girls” and they whisk you right back to summers past. “Good Vibrations” pop’s first ‘pocket symphony’ is a swirl of glorious passion, a few ad-libs from Brian is all it takes to make you think that this could be THE version they’ve been waiting to play for all these years. It’s possibly not true but it adds to the ebullient atmosphere.
As the band are implored not to rest for a second the band rush through a funk fueled “Rock and Roll Music”, a giddy “Surfin’ U.S.A.” and bouncy “Barbara Ann” with customary falsettos which are still strong after all these years.
The set ends with a rendition of “Fun, Fun, Fun”, the band seem hardly out of breath but this set being half of the usual they’d be well honed by now. It’s burns itself through in just under three minutes.
The disk is topped off by eulogies from a few of the audience that were in attendance that night – all over a certain age it might seem which is a bit of a shame as it would have been nice to hear what the youngsters in attendance had to say – including talk show host Jeremy Vine who also hosts a show on radio lest you were wondering why he gets so much airtime .
We’re also treated to the CV of “God Only Knows” ( One suspects if you’re even a moderate Beach Boys fan you might own this already .. ) and a long interview with the band about their experiences on this tour, the highlights, future plans, how the band are keeping up in touring, rivalries and spider bites ..
If you saw the Beach Boys on this reunion tour, you need this CD. If you wanted to see the Beach Boys, didn’t quite make it though, you need this CD. It’s a great unofficial souvenir of the tour and, as it’s unadorned, unsweetened and unspoiled by the inevitable vocal overdubs it’s a true experience of the almighty show. A real must have CD.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)