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Review: The Beach Boys at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 07-09-12

Posted By: David Accomazzo
Beach Boys - I get around by Salut-les-copains

Take a look at the video above. It's The Beach Boys, circa 1964, lip-syncing their first No. 1 single, "I Get Around," on an unknown TV show. The guitars aren't even plugged in. The group, still in its original lineup of Dennis Wilson, Mike Love, Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and Carl Wilson, stands around the back of a parked car, and they all perform woodenly but enthusiastically. A close-up of Mike Love, who sings the lead vocals on the song, shows him furrowing his brow in deep concentration as he lip-syncs the song. Dennis Wilson claps far too enthusiastically during the verse. Carl Wilson's "dance moves" consist of him rubbing his thumb and fingers together as he sings "I'm making real good bread."

It's an undeniably fantastic video, one of those classic YouTube gems you watch over and over again, like the panda sneezing or the baby who bites his brother's finger. (And yes, I know the video is from DailyMotion. You can't embed the higher-quality YouTube one, so here it is. It's higher quality than the one above.) It tells you pretty much all you need to know about the Beach Boys' live show, minus the lip-syncing. Everything sounds great, but the showmanship leaves something to be desired.

The Beach Boys are currently on tour celebrating their 50th anniversary and the release of their 29th studio album, That's Why God Made The Radio, and it marks the first time the surviving original members have teamed up to go on tour. Mike Love, Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston (who originally replaced Brian Wilson in 1965 when Wilson left the group to work on Pet Sounds), and David Marks, the Wilsons' neighbor who replaced Jardine for a spell before permanently joining, are touring together for the first time in decades, possibly since the ’60s, and it's the first time Wilson has joined the group on stage since the 1996 Grammy Awards.

The Beach Boys took stage supported by 10 other musicians, and the resulting sound was huge and full and phenomenally good. The band's signature backup harmonies were spot-on for almost the entire night, and Wilson, though clearly still the same Wilson whose devastating mental problems almost broke the group up, played piano, bass and sang well the whole night. His voice shined during the band's second set, which found him singing "Add Some Music To Your Day," "Heroes and Villains" and "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" back-to-back.

The night provided another first, at least for me. It was the first time I had seen a band headlining Red Rocks pause for purposes of "crass commercialism," as Mike Love put it. After bragging earlier about his Bentley, Love stopped the concert to ask that the six or seven thousand people in the audience buy the new album — the band needed to sell about 1,000 copies per show in order to keep the album in the Billboard Top 20 chart, Love said.

But the highlight of the night was music, and the music was phenomenal. "Don't Worry Baby" was a highlight, as were "Sloop John B," "That's Why God Made The Radio," "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and the sleeper of the night, "Darlin'." In fact, there were dozens — literally, they played 51 songs during the night — of great songs played throughout the night. They ended the first set with a four-song car medley of "Little Deuce Coupe," "409," "Shut Down" and "I Get Around." "God Only Knows" was followed by "Good Vibrations," "California Girls" and "All Summer Long." It was a night of full of harmony and catchy songs, performed surprisingly well by a core group of guys in their 70s.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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The highlight for me was when Mike Love out the entire audience during Kokomo.  I really love the Beach Boys, and loved it even more when Love wiggled his fingers at all the ladies, motioning them to "come on pretty mama." He is the man.  The show was so great and super cool to see live.  I loved it!