The Beach Boys’ first Australian tour since 1978 has been keenly anticipated by the large number of Australian fans who haven’t seen them yet and by those who have been fans for a lot longer. This was very clear at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on Sunday, September 2nd. This was a night filled with nostalgia, laughter and many memories. It’s amazing to think of any band ripping through a setlist of fifty songs over three hours. Add to that the fact that this is a group who haven’t all played together in 47 years and that many of the key members of the group are over 70, it is a phenomenal achievement.
Starting off with a handful of upbeat tunes (including “Do It Again” and “Catch A Wave”) helped keep the focus off the group’s early vocal troubles as they warmed up, before putting their refreshed vocals on display during their slower collection of ‘surfing and girls songs’ such as “Surfer Girl,” “Getcha Back” and “Disney Girls.” Not a surprise to those who paid attention to the group’s latest album “That’s Why God Made The Radio”, but a bit of a shock to some more traditional fans, new tune “Isn’t It Time” was an early highlight, being more tailored to the group’s ageing vocals and showcasing their harmonic strengths. Coming just before the interval, “Be True To Your School” and “I Get Around” caught everyone’s attention again and got them in the mood for dancing, which we saw a lot of in the second half.
The second half of the set saw Brian Wilson come to the fore, firstly surrounded by the original members for “Add Some Music To Your Day” before then segueing quickly into a polished rendition of “Heroes and Villians” and a very poignant version of “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” made more so by how out of it Wilson appeared throughout the show. His vocals were still on song and while in the first half new audience members would have been disappointed by his apparent lack of interest, now he was a bit more animated.
The set built solidly through another set of more upbeat tracks like “Good Vibrations,” “California Girls,” “Help Me, Rhonda,” a surprising but very energetic cover of Chuck Berry’s “Rock & Roll Music,” and “Surfin’ U.S.A.” This saw the crowd up on their feet and dancing again, despite how close it was getting to a lot of audience member’s bed time.
A very quick break was followed by an encore of “Kokomo,” “Barbara Ann” and “Fun, Fun, Fun” which certainly left everyone on a high (though a few audience members would certainly have needed a warm glass of milk to calm them down for bed.)
This was an excellent reunion performance who could quite easily have cashed in their chips and just rolled up for a quick run through the hits before hitting the hay. They were clearly not prepared to do this to their fans, throwing themselves into a huge set with energy and lots of humour (particularly from the affable Mike Love who doled out lots of ageing jokes.)
Largely held together by a backing group mostly made of Brian Wilson’s backing ensemble, the show flowed well, though it was the original members who shone and captivated the crowd’s attention. The youth in Mike Love’s voice as he made it through the epic set list was unbelievable! If you closed your eyes, you could have sworn it was a teenager belting out the hits about surfing and girls. Supporting Love’s efforts, Al Jardine’s singing was without a doubt the strongest from any of the original members. Surprisingly strong for a 70 year old, he could certainly show some of the younger groups floating around at the moment how to carry a group. Bruce Johnston brought some more entertainment to the group, revving the crowd up when he wasn’t needed on keyboards and otherwise backing the group up with his strong vocal contribution.
This is not to say that there weren’t weaker moments: It certainly took Love a little while to warm up and his voice definitely doesn’t have the strength it once did; Brian Wilson spent most of the show looking totally disinterested and it was questionable how much his piano playing was contributing; and the dance move only briefly appeared and were geriatric, though undeniably amusing. However, these are minor quibbles about a show that was a resounding success and that catered perfectly for its audience’s needs.
Led by the dual efforts of Al Jardine and Mike Love, The Beach Boys entertained, impressed and reminisced with an almost capacity crowd at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre. One of the most surprising part of the show was the contribution of vocalist and guitarist, Jeffrey Foskett (on his first visit to Australia.) Foskett’s soaring falsetto held the group’s efforts together and ensured that they were able to recreate their trademark sound. Put simply, without Foskett’s contribution, this tour would not have succeeded and yet, he never overshadowed those who the tour was designed to showcase: Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruch Johnston and David Marks – The irreplaceable Beach Boys.
8 out of 10