Holy Cow! I saw The Beach Boys! How awesome it was to be a part of this reunion tour, which was a tribute to their 50th anniversary together. Wow! Fifty years ago these guys were teenagers back then. The tickets were not cheap but worth every twenty-dollar bill. They were riding some cool bitching waves at the Chicago Theatre on Tuesday night in front of a sold out crowd. The architecture in that building speaks for itself alone. The stage was well set up. There’s a projection screen in the background showing clips of cars, bikini babes, large surfboards on both ends of the musical playing field and nostalgic drive-in-theater classic images. Spotlights flashed all around the auditorium. It was gimmicky but I loved it! The crowd is still making their way to the seats. Hawaiian shirts were worn by all ages, not just the baby boomers. Beach balls are getting tossed around among the people on the floor and sometimes bouncing on the stage.
I waited in anticipation to be transported back in time and enjoy the “good old days.” To celebrate what was about to occur, guys and girls sitting all around me were munching on fresh popcorn from paper replicas of the classic buckets. Of course, soda sipping was a real treat too! So there we were, about to become a part of history. These living legends came out from behind the curtains and just started playing immediately. It was one hit after another. I took notice of the white grand piano that the infamous Brian Wilson would soon be sitting at and playing. I was glad when he did. And so it began.
There were fifteen musicians up there jamming away. Five of which were original members from the 60’s. That includes Al Jardine, Mike Love and, of course Brain Wilson. The rest of these solid musicians were excellent at providing percussions galore, dazzling saxophone moments, tight guitar playing and solos. A long first set was full of their tunes about surfing and hot rods. There was some stage banter but mostly a marathon of song after song after song. They certainly got the audience on their feet cheering.
Mike Love was engaging as leader of the evening, while Brian, the quiet genius behind the scenes, carefully observed while playing the piano. He waited for his moment to shine with his “pet sounds” and “smiles.” His vocals on “Just Wasn’t Made For These Times,” while these blue lights wonderfully danced through the theatre, set a lively mood for this second half.
I used to dismiss the Beach Boys as just surfin’ and California sunshine. But it really is more than that. Just listen to those deeply profound lyrics from the mind of Wilson. I have always said that he was so far ahead of his time that we still have not caught up to him yet. Part of his brilliance was the ability to take these simple lyrics that spoke of basic human feelings and create an emotional impact through his music and harmonies. The more you live, the better it gets.
44 songs and their pleasure oozed from the band and we soaked it all up. We rejoiced at Wilson’s movements and gestures for a reason. Two decades since the group played together live and he hasn’t joined with them for a concert since the 70’s, due to his own illnesses and personal issues. Such sweet memories and performances in these treasured songs. They even had a tribute montage for the late Carl and Dennis Wilson during “God Only Knows” and “Forever.” Teary-eyed moments only made us appreciate how special this evening was for us.
So with all of the clapping and dancing in the aisles we were feeling the “good vibrations.” For as long as these guys have been around the block, they’re vocal harmonies and playing were quite good! Easily they are one of the greatest bands in rock and roll history! I loved it! And yes….I bought a t shirt!