Seeing Brian Wilson and Mike Love onstage after so many years of acrimony is really something special. I was very disappointed that The Beach Boys’ 50th Anniversary Tour never made it to my hometown of Seattle, so their new Live in Concert: The 50th Anniversary DVD is (as they say) the next best thing to being there. I don’t get all that excited about concerts anymore; I guess I’m just sort of an old fart in that respect, but this is one I really wish I had been able to see.
The show opens with “Do It Again,” and it is clear that these guys are enjoying themselves. The fifth song is the wonderful “Isn’t It Time,” from their excellent new release That’s Why God Made the Radio. If you are a Beach Boys fan, and have not heard this album yet, you need to. I believe it is their finest since Holland, which was released way back in 1973. Besides “Isn’t It Time,” they also play the title track, “That’s Why God Made the Radio” during the show. This would not be a Beach Boys concert without plenty of the classics that made them famous in the first place though. A few of these include “Little Deuce Coupe,” “409,” “I Get Around,” “Help Me Rhonda,” and “California Girls.”
There are plenty of highlights over the course of the concert, but when Wilson plays the opening notes of “Good Vibrations,” the crowd just erupts. I imagine that the famous theremin sound in the song was reproduced via sampler, but it sure would have been cool to watch Wilson play that otherworldly instrument onstage. Not that it detracts from the proceedings in any way, it is just a little thought I had while watching.
I mentioned the Holland album earlier, and it is sort of a “lost” Beach Boys record. You don’t hear about it much, and certainly not in the way people talk about Pet Sounds or Smile, but it is quite good. Holland even produced a fairly substantial hit with “Sail On Sailor,“ sung by Blondie Chaplin. Wilson does a fine job with it, but it might have been fun if they had invited Chaplin along to sing it.
I must say that I was a little surprised that they played “Kokomo.” It makes sense of course, as it was The Beach Boys’ biggest hit ever, and Brian Wilson had nothing to do with it. I never liked the tune, and still don’t, but obviously plenty of other people do.
If it seems like I am picking out the most minor of details to criticize, I am. Overall, the concert is excellent. Unfortunately, my editors did not really appreciate my first review. It was a simple, three-word review: “Get this now!” Well, that is the way I feel about it. Unless you were one of the fortunate people to have actually seen the tour, then you need the DVD. The band look and sound great together, and it is just sad that the whole reunion is already over.
We should be grateful that they decided to do it at all though. Not only did they make one of the best records of their career with That‘s Why God Made the Radio, but they did actually tour as well. I am thankful that Wilson and Love managed to put their longstanding differences aside to do a superb job in celebrating their golden anniversary.
The concert runs for one hour and eight minutes, in which they play a total of 21 songs. There are no extras on the DVD. My feelings about the whole Beach Boys saga are kind of summed up in “Wouldn‘t It Be Nice,” sung by Mike Love: “You know the more we seem to talk about it, it only makes it worse to live without it.”
It would have been nice if they had found a way to continue on, but it seems like this is it. The Live in Concert: 50th Anniversary DVD is a nice memento of the magic they created together onstage one night last summer.