Tonight I went to see the Beach Boys in concert. Well ... it is sort of the Beach Boys, or at least the members who have rights to the name. The ultra-short version of the story: Carl Wilson -- passed away; Dennis Wilson -- passed away; Brian Wilson -- not with the band, voice destroyed many years ago; Al Jardine -- not with the band. The band currently consists of lead singer Mike Love, versatile musician and singer Bruce Johnston, and other singers/musicians. Could these two Beach Boys really make the experience the same as a Beach Boys concert of old?
I prepped for the concert by re-watching The Beach Boys: An American Family, a 2000 television film, and Good Timin: Live at Knebworth England 1980. I was ready. Third row seat. Yowsa!
The concert was a short ride away -- at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington, IL. Never having attended a concert there before, I went a little early to spot out a free parking spot on the street. No problem.
If you've read this blog before, you probably know that my 21st birthday was not exactly recent history. Yet, believe it or not, I was in the minority -- one of the younger people in the crowd! I use the term "crowd" loosely. I was surprised there weren't more people at the concert. Oh yeah -- it was nice to see that the prices of Beach Boys apparel was hiked up $5-$10 at the concert. Nice.
The concert began and it was ... boring. There was a complete lack of energy on stage and in the hall. They played several of their early surf songs and car songs, and they all sounded flat. Also, it is pretty ridiculous to hear a 69 year old guy singing about surfer girls and being true to your school. They played for an hour and then had a 25-minute intermission. The songs in the first hour that sounded best were covers: So Young and Why do Fools Fall in Love. The low point for me came when they played Darlin'. Although drummer John Cowsill made a valiant effort on the vocals, I choked up thinking about how great the song was when Carl Wilson sang it -- and the realization that with Carl dead, there Beach Boys really were gone for good. I knew it, but I never really felt it inside until tonight.
The concert did pick up in the second hour. Good Vibrations, California Girls, and Wouldn't It Be Nice were sung with great harmonizing and energy, but it sure would have been nice to have Al Jardine's vocals in the mix. Other songs like Sloop John B, Barbara Ann, and Rock and Roll Music were okay. The group sounded much better in the second hour, but it just wasn't the Beach Boys. And it never will be.
There has been talk of a Beach Boys 50th reunion, but with Carl and Dennis Wilson dead and Brian Wilson no longer having his smooth voice, a reunion would be nice, but ...
After the concert, like any good former Redbird, I stopped on the ISU campus and grabbed some gondolas at Avanti's for the family. At least the gondolas remain great.