GIG: The Beach Boys
DATE: Friday 28th September 2012
VENUE: Wembley Arena, London
COST: £55 plus wildly extortionate booking fee of £7.88
OUR VERDICT: Phenomenal final show


It was quite bittersweet that the first Beach Boys concert Minty went to (circa 1986) was at Wembley Arena and tonight’s concert, at the same venue was the very last time we would be able to see the surviving members playing together in harmony. The last time Minty saw The Beach Boys play Wembley Arena, (around 1989), half of the venue had the seats blacked out and the arena was less than half full. Tonight there was hardly an empty seat (including the VIP seats in the first 20 rows that didn’t sell and were released for general sale a couple of weeks before the gig at half price!).

The Arena was packed

Mike Love
 Just to remind you all, the front line is the five surviving Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, Mike Love, David Marks, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston, along with Scott Totten, from the Mike and Bruce touring band,  and Jeff Foskett who toured as a Beach Boy during the 80’s, and is also Brian Wilson’s right hand man in his own touring band set up. The back line have a real musical pedigree, with members of Brian Wilson’s touring band, Darian Sahanaja, Mike D’Amico, Probyn Gregory, Scott Bennett, Nelson Bragg, Paul Von Mertens and the drummer from the Mike & Bruce set up, John Cowsill.

Not a bad picture considering how far away we were!
Our seats were up in the Gods, but that meant we had the option of standing or sitting down, unlike those on the main arena floor who had no choice but to stand for the full length as those at the front stood up, out of their seats from the very first drum beat to “Do It Again” pounding through the sound system.

The backdrop to the stage showed some great video - this one of the waves

The set list was only marginally shorter than last night with just a mere fifty five tunes  -  “Little Girl I Once Knew”, “Marcella”, “Good Timin’”, Still Cruising”, “Our Prayer” and “Let Him Run Wild” being omitted tonight.

Sometimes had to use the screens....
Once again, the sound was awesome, and the two screens either side of the stage showed the film being shot of the concert, so for those of us up in the Gods, we could see some close up views. We are at great risk of repeating what we wrote about last night’s Albert Hall gig, and we would be spot on if we were to just copy and paste that review!

Brian Wilson
Highlights for us tonight were Brian’s vocal on “Please Let Me Wonder” and “You’re So Good To Me”. He really got into “Heroes And Villains” and he beamed all the way through “California Dreaming”. 

"Add Some Music" never fails to disappoint us, and Brian was very comfortable performing this tonight.

Mike Love was the quintessential front man, dressed in his gold sparkly jacket, but with a white shirt tonight. His vocals sounded spot on through the Wembley sound system. Bruce was a bit weak on “Wendy” but “Disney Girls” got a rapturous applause.  

Darlin' by Darian Sahanaja

Darian Sahanaja singing “Darlin’” was just wonderful again and yesterday’s lump in Minty’s throat turned to glassy eyes as the videotape for “Forever” and “God Only Knows” with Dennis and Carl on the leads was played for the last time.

Dennis Wilson - Forever

Carl Wilson - God Only Knows

The songs from the new album “That’s Why God Made the Radio” and the new single “Isn’t It Time” really shone through and the album’s final track, “Summer’s Gone” made it into the main set tonight, sounding awesome once again. The videotape projected on the big screen above the stage of a setting sun was so fitting.

During the encore - Fun Fun Fun

People around us laughed as The Beeb sang the “hum de dums” on Good Vibrations but again, no-one else joined in! There was certainly a lot of love in that arena tonight and a lot of fun had on stage, including Scott Bennett jumping on the grand piano for a bit of “Surfin’ USA”.

First Half
1.    Do It Again
2.    Little Honda
3.    Catch A Wave
4.    Hawaii
5.    Don’t Back Down
6.    Surfin’ Safari
7.    Surfer Girl
8.    Please Let me Wonder
9.    This Whole World
10. Wendy
11. Getcha Back
12. Then I Kissed Her
13. You’re So Good To Me
14. Kiss Me Baby
15. Isn’t It Time
16. Come Go With Me
17. Why Do Fools Fall In Love
18. When I Grow Up To Be A Man
19. Dance, Dance, Dance
20. Darlin’
21. Disney Girls
22. It’s OK
23. Cottonfields
24. Be True To Your School
25. Ballad Of Ole’ Betsy
26. Don’t Worry Baby
27. Little Deuce Coupe
28. 409
29. Shut Down
30. I Get Around

Second Half
31. Pet Sounds
32. Add Some Music
33. Sail On Sailor
34. Heroes & Villains
35. I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times
36. California Dreaming
37. California Saga
38. In My Room
39. All This Is That
40. That’s Why God Made The Radio
41. Summer’s Gone
42. Forever
43. God Only Knows
44. Sloop John B
45. Wouldn’t It Be Nice
46. Good Vibrations
47. California Girls
48. All Summer Long
49. Help Me Rhonda
50. Rock & Roll Music
51. Do You Wanna Dance
52. Surfin’ USA

53. Kokomo
54. Barbara Ann
55. Fun, Fun, Fun

THE BEACH BOYS - Albert Hall

GIG: The Beach Boys
DATE: Thursday 27th September 2012
VENUE: Royal Albert Hall, London
COST: £95 plus wildly extortionate booking fee of £9.50
OUR VERDICT: Phenomenal


The Tour logo
Excitement had been building all week in anticipation of seeing the surviving members of the Beach Boys reunited in the UK for the penultimate show of their 50th Anniversary World Tour. We figured we would be in for a great show, especially when we saw that they had brought the big screens with them to give us the total Beach Boys experience with videos being played to accompany the songs. When the house lights were turned down at about 7.45pm a great cheer erupted from the expectant audience who filled every seat (just about) in the Royal Albert Hall.

The front line is the five Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, Mike Love, David Marks, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston, along with Scott Totten, from the Mike and Bruce touring band  and Jeff Foskett who toured as a Beach Boy during the 80’s, and is also Brian Wilson’s right hand man in his own touring band set up. The back line have a real musical pedigree, with members of Brian Wilson’s touring band, Darian Sahanaja, Mike D’Amico, Probyn Gregory, Nelson Bragg, Scott Bennett, Paul Von Mertens and the drummer from the Mike & Bruce set up, John Cowsill.

The Beach Boys are in their seventies now (except for the baby in the band, David Marks!), have been on a gruelling world tour since April and at times during the show Mike and Bruce’s vocals were a bit weak, and Brian missed a few words here and there, but overall the sound was just fantastic (that two and a half hour sound check paid off!!). Everyone on stage looked like they wanted to be there, putting to one side the reports of discord and disappointment following Mike Love’s ill-timed recent press statement (why he couldn’t have waited until after the tour had concluded to tell us what we already knew, we don’t know!).

The show kicked off with a strong drum beat from John Cowsill and dressed in black trousers and shirt with a gold shimmery jacket, front man Mike Love’s dulcet tones came through “It’s automatic, when we talk with old friends …….” with the aptly titled “Do It Again” starting the set which delivered a non-stop, high energy ride through the back catalogue with an amazing 61 songs being performed. Without pausing for breath, the surf medley followed and it was great to hear “Don’t Back Down” included.

Nelson Bragg adds great percussion

David Marks taking the lead on “Getcha Back” was brilliant to hear and the harmony from the rest of the band, just superb. Al Jardine got a great reaction from the crowd on “Then I Kissed Her” and was by far the one with the strongest vocal. Brian Wilson took the lead on many of the numbers, including “Please Let Me Wonder”, and “Marcella”. On the latter, backing band member Scott Bennett’s vocal was very audible and sounded incredible but the song was lacking the real guitar rock out we have seen in past Brian Wilson solo tours and we wondered how even more energetic the show would have been had the backing band been able to add more of their individual flair to the set!

A charity was being supported (Operation Smile) throughout the night and a rather moving video of a wee girl with a cleft lip being remedied played while the Beach Boys sang “Kiss Me Baby”. It appeared at the start of the song that the Boys were a bit unsure who was supposed to take the lead on this song!

Brian Wilson
Next up was a track from the recently released album, and we got the radio edit of “Isn’t It Time” which sounded great and got a good reaction from the audience, especially bearing in mind many of them may not have been familiar with this song.

Another surprise in the set was “Come Go With Me”, again with Al Jardine on lead and the audience were really appreciative of hearing that one. The band nailed the next song, another Doo Wop classic, “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” with some fantastic harmony to close the song off.

A technical hitch seemed to befall Scott Bennett during “When I Grow Up To Be A Man” as he lost the sound on the keyboard, but this did not detract from the overall performance of the song and he was back up and running for the next tune!

Darian Sahanaja
A real highlight was seeing Darian Sahanaja in the glare of the supertouper as he took the lead on “Darlin’”. He sounded amazing and dressed in a really smart suit and tie for this gig, he looked marvellous too.

Bruce sings Disney Girls
“Disney Girls” is a gentle, soft song, and with minimal instrumentation (the only guitar being played was from backing band member, Probyn Gregory) and Bruce Johnston delivered a sweet vocal. The audience reaction at the end was brilliant.

“It’s OK” was a bit of a disappointment as Mike Love’s voice was quite ropey and someone with red pom-poms bounced about in the first row as “Be True To Your School” was sung, and snapshots of The Beach Boys at Hawthorne high flashed up on the big screen behind. When a picture of Carl Wilson (who passed away on 1999) flashed up the audience gave a big cheer.

Scott Totten shone through with his falsetto on “The Ballad Of Ole’ Betsy” and played some smouldering solo guitar on the 90’s song “Still Cruising”.
The CEO of falsetto - Jeff Foskett

By this point we had been treated to twenty nine songs and the first half was rounded off with a further five songs, a car medley beginning with the CEO of falsetto, Jeff Foskett, giving us a perfect rendition of “Don’t Worry Baby” and ending with a rapturous “I Get Around”.

We did spend much of the first half having fun, playing “spot the bass guitarist” as Mike D’Amico took turns behind the drum kit for some songs (we thought maybe to give John Cowsill a break and allow him to pace himself for the monumentous set!) and Probyn Gregory (very talented multi-instrumentalist) took on bass duties. 

Mike D'Amico
Other times, Mike was nowhere to be seen at all and Probyn had firm control of the bass guitar! There was no Nicky Wonder to play baritone guitar, so Probyn also stepped up and played way up the neck instead. That meant for a number or two we had TWO basses.

David Marks
The start of the second half seemed to catch much of the audience off guard for some reason (even though the announcements told us the band would be back in five, then three minutes!) and they missed out on a hint of James Bond theme before delivering a brilliant “Pet Sounds”, with David Marks on the lead guitar. David’s guitar work was brilliant and it’s just a shame that not everyone made it back to their seats in time to hear this in its full glory. Mike D’Amico was on drums for this one and sounded great. The lights dimmed and when the lights went up again The Beach Boys were gathered around Brian Wilson’s grand piano and our ears were blessed with a beautiful version of Add Some Music. You couldn’t fault this and Brian looked very comfortable and extremely happy. Indeed all through the second half Brian just beamed with delight and really enjoyed his time on the stage.

Mike Love
“Our Prayer” just oozed harmony, and surprised us with being in the set, given Mike’s apparent reluctance to appreciate anything SMiLE related. The SMiLE theme continued with Heroes & Villains, even including the “you’re under arrest” shout out. The best reaction for Brian came at the end of “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” when the audience refused to let the show go on, until they had given a full standing ovation and extended cheers. His rendition of the song from his masterpiece album “Pet Sounds” justifiably deserved that accolade as he sang it beautifully.

Scott Totten took the lead on “Let Him Run Wild” and then Al Jardine stepped up to the mike for “California Dreaming” and “California Saga”.

Brian Wilson was very animated through “All This Is That”, a song from the Carl And The Passions, So Tough album, inspired by transcendental meditation and the harmony was really lush. This was one of the best versions we’ve heard.

The grrreat BRIAN WILSON!
Another song from their new album followed, this time the title track, “That’s Why God Made the Radio” and the band got it together tonight and nailed this one, without a doubt. There is so much harmony and sound in this song, your ears melt!

Then we got the experience many of the US fans got during the US leg of the tour – The Beach Boys taking a back seat and adding only backing harmony as the big screen above the stage played video of Dennis Wilson singing “Forever” and then the same for Carl Wilson singing “God Only Knows”. It was truly a moving experience and during “God Only Knows”, Brian played accompanying piano all the way through. There was certainly lumps in our throats and can only imagine how Brian must have felt watching his little brothers up there on the screen.

Probyn thrills on Good Vibrations

Then it was back to the high energy songs, and from this point on, no-one sat down. From “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” onwards, everyone was up and dancing in their seat. The Beeb did the obligatory “hum dee dums” along to “Good Vibrations” which made the people around us laugh (sadly no-one joined in) and the second half rounded off with high octane “Surfin’ USA”.

But the audience would not let go of this special band so easily and the encore was “Kokomo” followed by “Barbara Ann” where Brian moved out from the comfort of his grand piano, and plucked his bass guitar. 

Brian plucks his bass
“Fun, Fun, Fun” rounded off that encore and people who were starting to leave were stopped in their tracks as, after a bit of on-stage discussion, the opening notes from the final song on their new album were heard. We were amazed to hear “Summer’s Gone”, with Brian providing the perfect vocal. This left us with such a warm glow, and was the best way to end the show.

Take a bow
The audience loved it all

First Half
1.    Do It Again
2.    Little Honda
3.    Catch A Wave
4.    Hawaii
5.    Don’t Back Down
6.    Surfin’ Safari
7.    Surfer Girl
8.    The Little Girl I Once Knew
9.    This Whole World
10. Wendy
11. Getcha Back
12. Then I Kissed Her
13. Please Let me Wonder
14. Marcella
15. You’re So Good To Me
16. Kiss Me Baby
17. Isn’t It Time
18. Come Go With Me
19. Why Do Fools Fall In Love
20. When I Grow Up To Be A Man
21. Dance, Dance, Dance
22. Darlin’
23. Disney Girls
24. Good Timin’
25. It’s OK
26. Cottonfields
27. Be True To Your School
28. Ballad Of Ole’ Betsy
29. Still Cruising
30. Don’t Worry Baby
31. Little Deuce Coupe
32. 409
33. Shut Down
34. I Get Around

Second Half
35. Pet Sounds
36. Add Some Music
37. Sail On Sailor
38. Our Prayer
39. Heroes & Villains
40. I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times
41. Let Him Run Wild
42. California Dreaming
43. California Saga
44. In My Room
45. All This Is That
46. That’s Why God Made The Radio
47. Forever
48. God Only Knows
49. Sloop John B
50. Wouldn’t It Be Nice
51. Good Vibrations
52. California Girls
53. All Summer Long
54. Help Me Rhonda
55. Rock & Roll Music
56. Do You Wanna Dance
57. Surfin’ USA

Encore 1
58. Kokomo
59. Barbara Ann
60. Fun, Fun, Fun

Encore 2
61. Summer’s Gone


GIG: The Beach Boys in Concert
DATE: Monday 24th September 2012
VENUE: The Mermaid Theatre, Blackfriars, London
COST: free courtesy of BBC Radio 2
OUR VERDICT: Wouldn't It Be Nice..........Sure was


Another gig sans Minty, but The Beeb shouldered the burden of seeing The Beach Boys in concert for a BBC Radio 2 special after successfully getting his mitts on tickets in the listeners’ draw. The gig was recorded early in the evening for broadcast later that same evening.

Arriving early and a couple of hours queuing outside The Mermaid Theatre with pal, Viv, paid off as a seat was nabbed in the front row centre and with an unrestricted  and very close up view, The Beeb settled in for a fantastic concert.

A rather stunning looking Jo Whiley introduced the band, and the show kicked off with the fitting opener “Do It Again” with a strong drum beat from drummer John Cowsill.  Right from the start the audience were on their feet, which was encouraging for the prospect of this show being totally awesome, especially considering the people who had been in the queue around me were not really huge fans (e.g. never been to a Brian Wilson concert).

At times, during the show, the lead vocals from front man Mike Love were quite weak, but the backing band (which includes two from the touring Mike and Bruce set up, and almost all of the members of Brian Wilson’s band) bolster the sound, along with the other original members of the Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, David Marks and 1965 veteran, Bruce Johnston.

The set list is at the bottom of this post and I have not commented on every one of the songs included, but some of the songs performed did not make the final cut for the radio broadcast (due to time I suspect, and not a question of quality). David Marks took the lead on “Getcha Back”, Al Jardine came through very strongly on “Cottonfields” (as he also did on Help Me Rhonda and Then I Kissed Her) re-enforcing what many of the fans have been saying that his voice is by far the strongest of the band. “That’s Why God Made The Radio”, the first single from the same titled album released a couple of months ago, has been a bit hit and miss on the tour so far, but tonight it sounded good, with the band all together. Another song that didn’t make the final broadcast was “Kokomo”, their 80’s smash on both sides of the Atlantic thanks to the film “Cocktail”.

“Please Let Me Wonder” was the first song we saw Brian Wilson take the lead, and he sounded good, not the fragile man he sometimes is. The backing harmonies on this song really shone through and the crowd really enjoyed it. They did the second single from their new album “Isn’t It Time”, and this was the single version, not the album version. The single version has less instrumentation and is a bit more stripped down. Tonight it sounded very good, again with Al’s vocals adding a richness.

“Why Do Falls Fall In Love” was very lively, with the credit given to Brian Wilson for the arrangement. The ending was really sporty and the applause from the audience, immense.

“Don’t Worry Baby” with a sublime lead from Jeff Foskett (a Beach Boy during the 80’s, and now musical director for Brian Wilson) was pure harmony all round.

The version of Heroes And Villains” was the Brian Wilson SMiLE version, with the “You’re under arrest” interlude which was a nice surprise given the animosity between Wilson and Love on the whole SMiLE project. This song went down a storm with  audience. I tried to bring that SMiLE link back in during “Good Vibrations” by singing at the top of my voice, the “hum de dums” that feature prominently in Brian Wilson’s version and you can hear a bit of this on the audio recording on the Radio 2 website.

“God Only Knows” had to be re-recorded as Brian was over-awed by the audience response, and take two made the broadcast. This is a timeless classic and they nailed it. Brian appears to love singing this song and the appreciative audience just can’t get enough of it. Their prolonged adoration of the song, prompted Brian to say “that’s enough” so they could get into the next song.

Before we knew it, the show was drawing to a close with “Barbara Ann” and “Fun, Fun, Fun” being the last two songs. These were real crowd pleasers and made sure the concert ended on a complete high.

This was a really warm and intimate show that we felt so lucky to have been part of. We all know just how good Brian's band is, but I have to say the stars of this show were without doubt THE BEACH BOYS!

That's The Beeb in the front row! (photo from the BBC website)
Set List
Do It Again
Catch A Wave
Surfin’ Safari
Surfer Girl
Getcha Back
Please Let Me Wonder
Then I Kissed Her
Isn’t It Time
Why Do Fools Fall In Love
Don’t Worry Baby
I Get Around
Heroes And Villains
That’s Why God Made The Radio
God Only Knows
Sloop John B
Wouldn’t It Be Nice
California Girls
Good Vibrations
Help Me Rhonda
Rock And Roll Music
Surfin’ USA
Barbara Ann
Fun, Fun, Fun