Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Beach Boys at DTE June 30, 2012

If you have ever cared about the music of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys then there was no other place to be than last night at the DTE Energy Theater (the Venue Formely Known as Pine Knob)! I make no secret that I believe this catalog of work to be the most important in American Popular Music and consider the Beach Boys the Greatest American Band. Their music is woven into the tapestry of American Popular Culture in a way that no other artist can lay claim. (Berry Gordy's Motown catalog arguably comes close). It is easy to spot the Beach Boys influence in artists as diverse as The Ramones, The Shins, Sinead O'Connor, of course the Beatles, the list goes on and on.


The Beach Boys proved last night that they owned harmony singing like no other band, and that includes the Eagles and Crosby, Stills and Nash. Backed by Brian Wilson's touring band, the core of which is the LA Power Pop quartet "The Wondermints" as well as a couple of refugees from the Love-Johnston "Beach Boys" they provided spirited yet note-perfect backing. This backup aggregation can sing their asses off, and they effectively double the Beach Boy's vocals giving the tunes a full sound unheard since these tracks were recorded up to half a century ago.  The audio was accompanied by a giant video screen which showed appropriate scenes from the history of the Beach Boys.

The only thing missing from last night's celebration were the two younger Wilson Brothers, Dennis and Carl who passed on way before their time. Yet, they were there in spirit as the Beach Boys' accompanied video's of their signature. Perhaps the emotional highlight of the show as first Dennis appeared on the screen, singing his great composition "Forever" backed vocally and instrumentally by the Beach Boys. Pictures of Dennis appeared and the tune ended with the words "Dennis We Love You" on the screen. Then it was Carl's turn, as the screen portrayed him taking his angelic vocal turn on "God Only Knows" again backed by full band. There were more than a few teary eyes in the crowd after this tribute.


The two main Beach Boys, Brian Wilson and Mike Love have both turned 70, and age showed on a couple of tunes, but this did not detract from their otherwise strong vocal presentation. Al Jardine literally sounds like he always did. He really brings the classic BB sound. Bruce Johnston shone on his 1971 composition "Disney Girls." Honorary Beach Boy Jeff Foskett, doubled by "Love-Johnston Beach Boy" Scott Totten nailed the falsetto tags that highlighted many a Beach Boy's classic. They also sang the parts that were once handled by the late Carl Wilson. Surprisingly, the Beach Boys secret weapon might have been David Lee Marks who unwisely left the band after their first five albums after feuding with then manager (and Brian's father) Murray Wilson. His ringing guitar licks reminded the crowd of his bandmate and "across the street" neighbor Carl, and he led the band through the instrumental "Pet Sounds" from that classic album to open up the second set. No vocals in that tune, yet still a highlight!

That tune was followed up the the sight of the Beach Boys gathered around Brian's white concert grand, as they did a semi-acoustic version of "Add Some Music To Your Day" from 1970s "Sunflower" release. This tune, as it did on the original vinyl, showcased each BB's contribution to their vocal mix.


All in all, a breathtaking evening of music.

Altogether the Beach Boys played 47 songs in a 2 hour and 45 minute show. No opening act. Setlist is below.

Go, if you have the chance. This might be the last chance to see and hear these legends. If it is, then they certainly went out on the highest note imaginable. I can imagine seeing this show again, if they tour in next year. I would probably catch a Brian live show since I like to periodically worship at the "Church of Wilson." Doubt that I would watch a "Love-Johnston" Beach Boys show as it can't possibly match this. So this might be it for me. Nearly 50 Beach Boy/Brian Wilson shows starting in 1974 and (maybe) ending in 2012. Lotta memories for me. But there will supposedly be a live DVD and CD from this tour. And there is YouTube and torrents and the original vinyl. This music will live on.

Love and Mercy to you and your friends Tonight!

Setlist

1 Do It Again
2 Catch A Wave
3 Hawaii
4 Don't Back Down
5 Surfin' Safari
6 Surfer Girl
7 Come Go With Me
8 Why Do Fools Fall In Love
9 When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)
10 Please Let Me Wonder
11 Wendy
12 Getcha Back
13 Then I Kissed Her
14 Disney Girls
15 Isn't It Time
16 Kiss Me, Baby
17 California Saga: California
18 Cotton Fields
19 Be True To Your School
20 Ballad of Ole' Betsy
21 Still Cruisin'
22 Don't Worry Baby
23 Little Deuce Coupe
24 409
25 Shut Down
26 I Get Around

Intermission

27 Pet Sounds
28 Add Some Music To Your Day
29 Heroes And Villains
30 Sloop John B
31 Wouldn't It Be Nice
32 I Just Wasn't Made For These Times
33 Sail On Sailor
34 All This Is That
35 That's Why God Made The Radio
36 In My Room
37 Forever
38 God Only Knows
39 Good Vibrations
40 California Girls
41 Help Me Rhonda
42 Rock N Roll Music
43 Do You Wanna Dance?
44 Surfin' USA

Encore

45 Kokomo
46 Barbara Ann
47 Fun, Fun, Fun

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