|The Beach Boys, 1960's. Left to right: Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, Mike Love, Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson.|
|The Beach Boys touring band, 2014. Bruce Johnston and Mike Love in front.|
Last night I saw one of my favorite bands, The Beach Boys, live at Mystic Lake Casino. I’ve been a fan of The Beach Boys since childhood, and from the time I was 5 until 12 they were constantly on the tape player in my parents’ car. Even though this was the late 1980’s and early 90’s, my favorite music was The Beach Boys and Harry Belafonte. Yes, I was an odd kid. One of the earliest concerts I went to was The Beach Boys at the Minnesota State Fair. Looking through a list I found of Minnesota State Fair performers, The Beach Boys performed at the Minnesota State Fair in 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1994. So that doesn’t really help me pinpoint exactly when it was. No matter, I was just thrilled to hear all those songs about cars and surfing live. Years later I saw Brian Wilson open for Paul Simon in 2000, but when Brian and Mike Love reunited to tour together as The Beach Boys in 2012, they didn’t come to the Twin Cities.
Last night’s show featured Mike Love and Bruce Johnston, along with very talented supporting musicians who superbly recreated the sound and feel of the original records. In the 1960’s, The Beach Boys took Chuck Berry guitar riffs, Four Freshman-style close harmony singing, and combined those elements with songs about cars, girls, and surfing to create a beautiful and original sound. Their records are just plain fun to listen to, and their best songs have become rock classics.
I was pleasantly surprised that Mike Love’s voice still sounds great. If I closed my eyes, I could imagine that I was time-traveling back to 1965 as he sang such hits as “Hawaii,” “Little Honda,” “Catch a Wave,” and “I Get Around.” Love is well-known for having a big ego, but he came off as very nice in concert. After the opening group of songs, which were all from the band’s early and mid-60’s heyday, he dead-panned to the crowd, “I’m happy you liked those songs, even though they were some of the newer ones.” Love was content to let others share the spotlight, as he didn’t sing the leads on songs he wasn’t the original lead singer on, leaving “Don’t Worry Baby” and “Surfer Girl” to the bassist, who handles the falsetto vocals originally sung by Brian Wilson on the records. One of the highlights of the show was the beautiful new song Love wrote as a tribute to George Harrison, “Pisces Brothers.” Love went to India with The Beatles in 1968 to study meditation, and he and Harrison both had their birthdays while in India. It’s obvious Love felt a close connection to Harrison, as he wiped away a tear as he finished the song.
The concert was full of just about every big Beach Boys hit, from “Surfin’ USA” and “Surfin’ Safari” to “Help Me, Rhonda” and “Good Vibrations” to “Kokomo.” The excellent band really captured the sound of the classic Beach Boys songs, and the concert was a very enjoyable nostalgia trip. Even though I was listening to these songs when they were 20 years old, they were a big part of my childhood, and I was very happy to hear these songs played and sung so well.The music of The Beach Boys just fills me with joy, and I think everybody at the concert felt the same way.