Thursday, 18 October 2012

Beach Boys - 31 August 2012, Rod Laver Arena

Reunion tours are fraught with danger, particularly where some key members of the band don’t participate (even if the reason for this is that they’re dead). So to some degree it wasn’t a surprise that this show didn’t sell that well. Fortunately, some heavily discounted tickets meant that the venue was nearly full, and the crowd was treated to an exceedingly long, and surprisingly good show.

First a confession, I’m a bit of a heathen when it comes to the Beach Boys, in that I’m not really much of a fan of the ‘good’ albums (Pet Sounds and Smile), but I really like the early surf stuff. This show covered the whole gamut of their career (fairly easy to do when you play a 53 song set) so everyone should have had something to like.

The surprise for me was the quality of their voices.  For a band whose success was based in large part on their high harmonies, the effects of aging could have been devastating, but the voices and performance were both great. The band also did a good job of incorporating a song each by Dennis and Carl Wilson (via studio vocal tracks) without it being either too schmaltzy.

And really, could anyone complain about a show that concluded with this run of songs – Sloop John B/Wouldn’t It Be Nice/Good Vibrations/California Girls/All Summer Long/Help Me Rhonda/Rock & Roll Music/Do You Wanna Dance?/Surfin USA/Kokomo/Barbara Ann/Fun, Fun, Fun.

Having said all that, I did want to mention something I’ve noticed with ‘classic’ acts. They seem to think that video screens are for showing generic stock footage (in this case of surfing) or screensavers from Windows 95. When you’ve got as much footage as these guys must have, why not use it to illustrate your history and make the statement that your career has been big that you are a historically important act. Just an idea.

A final note: I spent a lot of time wondering whether to mention this, since it makes me look like a real bitch, but it’s so obvious in the recording I figured I couldn’t not.  Sitting next to me were a family with an intellectually disabled girl. She was clearly having a good time, which was great, but she also made a lot of noise at odd times (joining in with the count in, clapping to her own rhythm). At times this might be a bit distracting, but hopefully it won’t take away from the overall enjoyment of a good show.

[Given this show is long I’m going to put up Set 1 and Set 2/Encore separately, to allow me time to process it all. Keep an eye out for a link to the second part to be put up in a week or so]

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