The Beach Boys have been a perennial act on the summer concert tour schedule for decades. But the band’s 50th Anniversary tour has received greater attention and attendance this year not because of the milestone number, but because of the inclusion of all of the band’s surviving original members—most notably Brian Wilson.
Wilson, the Beach Boys’ leader and primary songwriter before his well-documented personal struggles, is touring with the band for the first time in about 30 years. His onstage presence wasn’t felt initially, as the Beach Boys kicked off the party with summer treasures such as “Catch a Wave,” “Surfin’ Safari” and “Surfer Girl,” with Mike Love, the band’s only constant throughout their history, on lead vocals.
After a roaring first 25 minutes, the show slowed down as Wilson, seated stage right at a white grand piano, took the lead on obscure tracks such as 1972’s “Marcella” and 1970’s “This Whole World.” The energy picked back up, though, on car classics “Little Deuce Coupe,” “409,” “Shut Down” and “I Get Around.”
You don’t realize how many timeless songs the Beach Boys have written until you hear them one after another. The second half of the 44-song(!) show showcased the band’s strongest work. Deceased members Dennis and Carl Wilson were memorialized, respectively, during “Forever” and “God Only Knows,” which remains one of the greatest pop songs ever written.
Brian’s vocal range has severely decreased over time, but his discordant, world-weary delivery gave “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times” an added gravity with his 70th birthday less than a month away. That tune blended in well with other Pet Sounds classics such as “Sloop John B” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” as well as lesser-known gem “Sail On, Sailor.”
Following the band’s first new single in 20 years, the vintage-sounding “That’s Why God Made the Radio,” it was a full-bore dance party of classic Americana. You know the songs: “Good Vibrations,” “California Girls,” “Help Me, Rhonda,” “Surfin’ USA.” Everyone from teenagers to old-timers were out of their seats and singing along as the show concluded with the trifecta of “Kokomo,” “Barbara Ann” and “Fun, Fun, Fun.” The Beach Boys might have been around for 50 years now, but their songs remain as fresh and timeless as ever. ★★★★☆