A slice of Americana pie

ImageI have been to many shows, most of which deserve a quick mention or social media post about how awesome or horrible the show was. There are not many that deserve a long blog entry about the greatness of the show and those who performed.

The Beach Boys were a part of my childhood and adolescence–even now. Nothing beat those harmonies, songs about girls, cars and surfing with a catchy hook. There were those Full House episodes, were I wish those California fellas could drop by my house and later invite my family up on stage to sing “Barbara Ann.”

A few years back, I saw the “Beach Boys” perform, back when it was Mike Love and Bruce Johnston performing while leasing the name. This time, a tour, new record and a reunion to commemorate 50 years of summertime music–with Brian Wilson–was hatched.

And here it all started with this studio session…

Just this past Friday, those west coast boys came to town and played a 2+ hour set of the classics, the hits and a couple new cuts. A screen backdrop was placed on stage behind the band, which during the performance, photos and video footage of those many yesterdays floated by.

For a band that averages to be 70 years of age, they powered through what should have been intermission time only to play through the “car songs” — “409,” “Shut Down,” etc and to only come back to perform another set just roughly ten minutes later.

Brian Wilson, the aptly-considered “genius” of the band sat at a pristine white piano, playing the keys all night, only to stand for bass towards the end. Al, Bruce and David Marks played to their heart’s content while singer and resident emcee of the group Mike Love flirted with the crowd. Yes, he is still has that comedic heart-throb aura about him. Then again, at 70, he’s still looking pretty good.

The second half of the show was Brian’s songs–his “Pet Sounds” and later tunes. To pay homage to the dearly departed Dennis and Carl–Brian’s brothers and former founding members–video and audio footage was played over the large backing screen. Dennis’ puppy-dog face, crooning “Forever”–his voice casting a ghostly vibe throughout the venue as the lights were dimmed and the band continued to play the song along to the audio. Touching and purely powerful. Same goes to honor Carl with “God Only Knows.” Same deal, same powerful, emotional vibe. It was tough to keep dry eyes during these segments.

What ate at me, mostly as fan and music/pop culture geek was the knowing of the Wilson boys’ family life. Murry, the father was a jealous, cruel man–an earlier Joe Jackson if you will–who put the pressure on Brian to write and create, write and create. In 1999, John Stamos had executive produced an ABC primetime biopic about the boys. Oddly impeccable and very different from the earlier biopic, Summer Dreams. The Beach Boys: An American Family had a great cast who looked just like the Beach Boys when they were younger. Somehow, each one acted out both the vocal and physical mannerisms wonderfully. Although, like most dramatizations, there are scenes and details added that are fictionalized for entertainment, however the scene with Dennis and his father towards the end is what made me almost blub away during “Forever.”

Murry was never one to praise his boys, or accept their talent. He was always putting them down or finding a flaw in the recording, so he honed in and acted as producer. He was in it for a buck, since his ill-fated, short-lived jaunt in the music industry. Sure, he got them signed to Capitol, but never encouraged or released any praise. In a short period before Murry passed, Dennis wrote “Forever,” which Murry shockingly told him it was a beautiful song. To a shocked Dennis, Murry also gave him the old T-bird that he’d like to take without permission to the beach. Dennis drowned in the ocean ten years after Murry’s death.

It is surprising to see that after the lawsuits, royalty and publishing rights ordeals, the remaining members managed to record another album and take the show back on the road again. This tour is a must-see.

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