A lot of the bands that have come to Australia on recent reunion tours have tended to feel forced, overly nostalgic, or been seemingly unaware that the members of the bands have aged since their initial fame.
Thankfully, the Beach Boys’ Sunday night stopover in Adelaide for their 50th anniversary tour suffered from none of this. Extremely good-natured, supremely comfortable on stage and keen to please, the band with nothing left to prove were under no illusions of where they are in their careers and were all the more enjoyable for it.
Consisting of Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, David Marks and nine extra members including Jeffrey Foskett, the Californian band came out to a somewhat small, but appreciative, crowd.
Perhaps the high price tag turned off a few punters and the early start time caught those who did have tickets unaware. At any rate, the band opened with a flurry of up-tempo tracks, playing “Do It Again”, “Catch A Wave”, “Hawaii” and “Don’t Back Down”.
Love then took some time to humourously acknowledge he and his band members’ age, and – ever the professionals – they slowed down the tempo of the evening with a batch of songs including “Surfer Girl”, the gorgeous “Getcha Back” and “Wendy”, as well as “Disney Girls” – the latter of which was a real set highlight.
“Be True To Your School” brought the mood up again, complete with the goofiest visuals of the night that showcased the band’s high school days. ‘Little Deuce Coupe”, “409” and “Get Around” were all great car-themed cappers to the first half of the set.
The group came back on stage after intermission, by surrounding Brian Wilson on the grand piano for “Add Some Music”. The second half of their peformance was a lot more consistent tempo-wise. Highlights such as “Heroes and Villians”, “Sail On, Sailor” and “Let Him Run Wild”, all keeping the crowd’s spirits up.
The evening kicked into another gear though with “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” and “Sloop John B” off of Pet Sounds. The band played along with Carl Wilson’s vocal track on “God Only Knows” along with some tasteful visuals. “Forever”, with Dennis Wilson, got the same treatment and was equally striking.
Finishing up the main portion of the evening with “Good Vibrations”, “Help Me, Rhonda”, “California Girls” and “Surfin’ USA”, the predominantly older crowd were on their feet and the band wasted no time in coming out for their encore which included “Kokomo”, “Barbara Ann” and “Fun Fun Fun”.
Although the inclusion of covers like “Rock and Roll Music”, “California Dreamin'” and “Then I Kissed Her” (the Crystals standard which was re-released by the Beach Boys in the late 60s) felt a little odd considering the number of their own songs that had to be left out, it would be difficult for anyone to criticise the hit-heavy setlist.
The band opted for only a couple of selections from their latest release That’s Why God Made The Radio, but the band’s spirits were infectious for the entire show.
Although Wilson’s voice has suffered over the years, he has built up enough good will and respect across his entire career for anyone at the show to really mind. At any rate, the rest of the band’s voices and presence were top-notch and more than up to the task of performing their enormous catalogue
For a group that has had their fair share of drama, it was a delight after all this time to see the five members on stage visibly enjoying each other’s company and clearly on tour for all the right reasons.