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

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