In the truest sense, The Beach Boys 50 Years of Good Vibrations Tour is a homecoming of old friends. Packed with great songs, great people, incredible harmonies and so, so many "Good Vibrations." It is a classic collection of Americana rock’n roll music that reminds us of a time gone by when "first loves" could be the girl or boy next door or fast, shiny, big thunder cars like a "little Deuce Coupe" or a "409." I can think of no better way to end 2016 than a Beach Boys concert hosted by Mike Love and company in a venue like the Paramount Theatre in Denver, a performance space drenched in entertainment history.
At age 75 Mike Love is a force to be reckoned with, he has spearheaded a variety of Beach Boys touring productions and still plays hundreds of concert dates a year. 73-year-old, longtime Beach Boy member, and contributor Bruce Johnston has been sharing the stage with him for most of the past half-century.
This touring version of The Beach Boys does not include Brian Wilson, who wrote many of the group’s hits, or co-founder Al Jardine. However, both are still active members of the group. Dennis Wilson and Carl Wilson, Brian’s brothers and Mike Love's cousins, died in 1983 and 1998, respectively. The Evening show included a moving visual tribute to Carl and a version of “Do You Wanna Dance” with recorded lead vocals by the late Dennis Wilson. Both were richly embedded with video footage of the missing bandmates.
While they may not be “original” members, six other musicians helped Love and Johnston bring the evening to life with those same distinctive Beach Boys harmonies that one would expect from a Beach Boys concert. Guitarist, Jeff Foskett filled in nicely for the missing Brian Wilson on the high harmonies, falsetto and lead vocals on “Don’t Worry Baby” and “In My Room." Bass Player Brian Eichenberger delivered a powerful cover of The Crystals song “Then I Kissed Her.” Drummer, John Cowsill of the legendary family band, The Cowsills, provided a robust and familiar beat as well as exceptional vocals on a cover of the Mamas and Papas “California Dreamin.” Randy Leago’s saxophone skills also shined in “California Dreamin,” as did his flute playing on “Sloop John B.” Keyboardist Tim Bonhomme and guitarist/musical director Scott Totten rounded out this exceptional group of musicians.
The evening was all about, Fun, Fun, Fun, 409’s, little surfer girls and of course “Good Vibrations.” All were delivered in the rich harmonies and upbeat tempos that are signature Beach Boys. The Sound is still joyous and infective with the same positive vibe and youthful energy I remember from my first Beach Boys concert on August 9th, 1966 at the old Denver Auditorium Arena. The Beach Boys still “rock” with the same unique sense that we are all in this together and traveling similar journeys. The music tugs at the loves and losses of our youth and provides a musical and visual glimpse into a simpler time in America without smartphones and the confusing complexity of social media and the internet.
Although this was the final 2016 performance of this The Beach Beach Boys tour, you can bet the new year will bring more "Good Vibrations."