Review by David Clements from HoustonMusicReview.com.
It seems that 50 is a number that has come into play a lot lately and this past Friday night at The Woodlands Pavilion was no exception.
Yes, we had 50 SHADES OF GRAY. It dominated the audience who was bound to have come from far and wide…it just wasn’t about what you think, shame on you. It was about the multiple shades of gray hair on the baby boomer fans of America’s Band…THE BEACH BOYS! Besides, it was the Beach Boys FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY TOUR. Wow! Fifty years of making terrific beach music and touring the world. Frankly, they looked pretty darn good given their longevity! Also, with no shortage of songs to sing they generously gave the massive audience of 14,000 plus a set list that included 50 songs. Guess it had to be pretty difficult to put that list together and select the order. No one could argue that they didn’t give their fans their money’s worth!
At times it sure looked like there were another 50 musicians up on stage singing harmonies with the guys. Obviously that wasn’t really the case however there was a gang and ,respectfully, they probably needed all they had up there to duplicate that special sound that made them so indelibly popular for sooooo many years. Certainly no criticism from me for trying and succeeding in delivering a terrific PRODUCT to who were there!
Speaking of singing there was a time during the show that I carefully tried to listen to Brian Wilson’s vocals and watch the big screen and I was fairly convinced that his microphone was either not on, or set so low that there was nothing vocally coming through. Having said that, Wilson has had such an incredible musical background and has been so influential in shaping the sounds so many of us still love and enjoy after all these years that it really didn’t matter. I respect how he has hung in there as long as he has! Sadly his general demeanor, other than a very occasional smile, was in my judgment not one of a healthy, happy man. I hope I’m wrong!
Apparently very healthy Mike Love , lead vocalist, was really the focal point of most of the show. He provided lots of animation , energy, and fun throughout the night. I think he made a very key statement that I believe represented the collective view of the band….. ’We are never going to grow up!’ I love it! Bruce Johnston , on keyboards ,was introduced as being a newer member of the band as he didn’t join the group until 1965 ! Only 47 years! He was also very visible and upbeat. He was clearly the band’s cheerleader and did a great job of interacting with the audience.
As an aside, they shared that Johnston wrote the Grammy Winning Song for Barry Manilow , “I Write the Songs”. They didn’t sing it however they did go directly into a song featuring Johnston called Disney Girls. It was a nice change of pace and nicely done! Before I move on, a reminder to check out my images that can be found in ‘the HMR Photo Gallery’. As is normally the case the photographers are given the show’s first two songs to photograph the band. Unfortunately, two BEACH BOY songs go by very quickly, especially when the band is committed to playing 50 tunes during the show!
And speaking of photography one of my big complaints of a group/band is that they do not ‘come together’ to provide a good photo op while the photographers are out front. Some bands do, like Lady A, but most are clueless. So considering all of that, it was particularly frustrating to see all the guys gather around Brian’s beautiful white grand piano and sing together at the beginning of the second half of the show! This would have been a terrific, if not historical shot, to share with you and show just how poignant this 50 year celebration was. This was the low point of the night for me, and sad given that there will probably NOT be a 60 year anniversary tour ….therefore no so of them all!!!
ImageOn a happier note several times during the show I closed my eyes to just get rid of everything but the sounds I was listening to. Each time it was clear I was listening to The Beach Boys in all their glory and all their terrific harmonies that have been so distinctive and pleasing for so long. Their sounds took me back to a simpler time, hanging out on 29th street and Altantic Ave at the beach(VB) . My mind drifted further back to the first time I saw the BB’s. It was at The Alan B Sheppard Convention Center, better known as The Dome for those of us who grew up in Va Beach Va. A guy who I recently had the opportunity to meet, Glen Campbell, now suffering from dementia, was playing with them at the time. They were so much fun then and I am pleased to report they were the same Friday night… just 50 shades of gray lighter.
I would have loved to survey the crowd and ask them if they could remember the first time they saw the BB’s. My guess is that most had and could tell you where and when. I think they are just that distinctive to the musical landscape of our Country. Don’t you agree? I don’t want to imply that there were no younger fans present. Many in the audience looked like they were the grandchildren of us baby boomers, and certainly none of those folks looked like they were there under duress being there!
One of the evening highlights was Be True To Your School probably because it featured photographs of the guys from their High School days. Love the power of a photograph and the memory it can create. It definitely impacts a lot of why I do what I do with a camera. Don’t Worry Baby seemed to be a big hit with the audience as well. The harmonizing vocals were especially soothing and pleasing providing the crowd a collective dreamy, feel good moment.
To close this review, I’d like to observe that some might say 50 years is overkill and wonder why would they keep touring and performing. It’s certainly not for the money. I think the money is probably nice AND I think it is essentially for their loyal, enthusiastic coast to coast fans. With each show they are saying THANK YOU FOR BEING A BEACH BOYS FAN FOR ALL THESE YEARS and supporting what we do.
These guys have sung about the beaches we’ve enjoyed, the cars we’ve driven or wished we had, the women we’ve loved and those who we wished had loved us, and the endless summer that they and we hope will never end. Thank you guys…
Until the next time hope you keep it between the navigational beacons!