The Beach Boys @ The Star Event Centre
Reviewed on Tuesday February 7
There are certain things in life that might never have quite found their way onto your personal bucket list, yet when they roll around there’s an unexpected frisson there regardless. Catching The Beach Boys (well, most of ’em) perform was a pretty grand experience, but the real memory of the night belongs to the opener, The Temptations. While only the 75-year-old Otis Williams remains of the original lineup, witnessing the iconic Motown band do that signature classic, ‘My Girl’, was one hell of a thing. Who would have thought in 2017 that such an opportunity could still exist?
The Temptations have always been flamboyant performers, and true to form, the eccentric costumes have carried on down the years; it’s like they’re ambassadors for a Sergeant Pepper fashion empire. Sure, they might move a little stiffly these days, and their choreography probably hasn’t changed in 30 years, but their voices still soar – Larry Braggs and Ron Tyson in particular – and it would take a hard heart not to get caught up in a number like ‘Ain’t Too Proud to Beg’.
And then, The Beach Boys. No Brian Wilson, alas, but Mike Love on primary vocals is still an impressive and (personally) unaccountably nostalgic act. The landscape of their music is from an era I am entirely disconnected from – the US coastal culture – but such is their influence and innovation that many of their songs have wormed into the soundtrack of later generations. Those who were there to dive into the rise of The Beach Boys as their fame rolled around the world – here in Australia ‘Kokomo’ spent eight weeks at number one – ensured the venue was packed; a sea of white hair and Hawaiian shirts far as the eye could see.
For a 50th Anniversary tour, you can forgive the odd off-pitch moment of mumbled lyric, especially when you find yourself swept along in a relentless wave of classics – their cover of ‘California Dreamin’’, ‘Sloop John B’, ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’, ‘California Girls’. The best part of the night, however, derived from the fact these guys seem to genuinely still love to perform, even if they are laughing into their 5000th rendition of ‘Surfin’ U.S.A.’. ‘I Get Around’ was a highlight, but how could you not lose yourself in ‘God Only Knows’, ‘Good Vibrations’, ‘Barbara Ann’, ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’… my God, there are just so many.
There aren’t many bands out there who can claim the success or the longevity of The Beach Boys. Maybe it wasn’t a bucket list item when I arrived, but by the time I left, they may have sneaked on there after all.