I had been watching the papers and Internet sites ever since the news Brian Wilson joined Mike Love and Al Jardine to celebrate Sounds Of Summer: The Very Best Of The Beach Boys going double platinum. Rumors were flying the complete Beach Boys may actually appear together on the same stage again.
As I had been secretly hoping, The Detroit Free Press began hinting a very special guest may be joining the band at the Detroit shows. In a matter of a couple days hints became confirmation and it was announced the mysterious special guest would be often guest drummer, John Stamos, best known for the seven years he spent on Full House. Not too much of a surprise, Stamos has often toured with the band since his first appearance more than fifteen years ago. Without trepidation, I bought my ticket.
DTE, better known by its former name, Pine Knob, is an open-air pavilion, with a large amount of Lawn seating. It was here I first saw the Beach Boys live in 1986. The lawn seating used to be called "party on the hill" in the '80s, and the seating is usually a huge value ($5 for this show with a voucher). In '86 the hill was the place for me and my college student budget, but this time around I opted for a closer to the stage, real seat and was very glad I had. Shortly before the show started, the unbearable heat broke by a brisk cool breeze, which blew in clouds and rain.
We were at the earlier of the two shows the band had scheduled for the Sunday, and only the middle section of the pavilion was filled. The fans on the lawn were allowed to file into the top rows of the side seats to escape the rain, the band took the stage, and at least in this fan's mind, the rain cleared and the "Warmth of the Sun" took over.
The band took the stage shortly after 2:30 and launched into what would become ten of their biggest hits without a single break. Not letting the extreme heat detour them or the music, the energy was high and their enthusiasm fed the crowds… or maybe it was the other way around. But the mood quickly went from concert to summer beach party, complete with beach balls bouncing around the venue.
When your catalogue of music spans as many decades and includes as many hits as the Beach Boy's, you know the party is going to last awhile and they didn't disappoint, playing for more than two hours. They seemed to categorize the songs into neat little sections starting with the girl songs, ("Help Me Rhonda," "Barbara Ann," and "California Girls") moved on to car songs, ("Little Deuce Coupe," and "Shut Down") and ending with surfing songs ("Surfin' Safari," "Surfer Girl," and "Surfing USA").
Of course, there was spontaneity, and some of the themed songs were scattered among others, but I did notice a trend of them being grouped together. At one point, while talking about the history of music, Love acknowledging the fact keyboardist Bruce Johnston had penned the Grammy award winning "I Write The Songs" (though not for them). He was coaxed into performing a bit of it and when Love chided about the quality of lyrics, Johnston only had one word in response – "Kokomo." Before breaking back into the songs they were known for, Johnston went on to say they intended to play a majority of the songs from the aforementioned Sounds Of Summer.
And they did. Part of the music history lesson, was the song "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" which was a cover and the B-side to "Fun Fun Fun." Hearing the crystal clear five-part harmony spread across the outdoor venue on a light breeze reaffirmed why they continue to be a mainstay of American Music. If you were one to have any doubts, the performance of "Then I Kissed Her" would have erased them. My personal all time favorites: "Getcha' Back," "Come Go With me," "Wouldn't It Be Nice," (Okay, I could go on forever) were spaced nicely throughout the show.
With Mike Love being the only original member of the band still performing under the Beach Boy name, the vocals were split between them and several of the newer players. The new voices aren't quite the same, but darn close. It is without a doubt a very large and very talented group performing the tunes.
Even Stamos took the mic and center stage and began what would be a "patriotic" set. After saying in light of world events it was a blessed experience to be able to celebrate the music with family and friends, he sang "Good Timing" and dedicating it to Carl Wilson. From there the band did "Be True to Your School," saying there wasn't anything more patriotic to do than watch sports on the weekend, and then closed the show with "Surfing USA."
There was no doubt they were coming back. Even though the song had been dissed earlier in the show, it had been missed and the venue was calling for "Kokomo." They quickly retook the stage and the familiar drum sounds filled the air followed by "Fun Fun Fun" to finish the encore.
As the show ended and we made are way up the hill, the rain had stopped and the hot humid air was beginning to weigh back down. I couldn't imagine how they were going to take the stage two hours later and do it all again.
Even though rumors are still circulating Brian Wilson may record new music with Mike Love under the Beach Boy name, I know the chances of him returning to the stage are slim. I also know when summer comes back around and the band rolls back into DTE, I will be there to enjoy the party.