The Beach Boys formed in 1961, and would soon go on to forever popularize the idea of being a Southern California teenager.
On Saturday night, Aug. 30, Beach Boys Brian Wilson and Al Jardine stopped by Fantasy Springs to play a show for their original teenage fans—as well as a surprising number of younger people.
After the lights flicked off, the backing band took the stage, followed by Wilson, who hobbled over toward his piano, which had a teleprompter in front of it. Al Jardine soon followed with his guitar and took a spot in front of a microphone not too far from Wilson. They received welcoming applause as they started off with “California Girls,” from the 1965 studio album Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!). They followed with “Dance, Dance, Dance” and “Catch a Wave,” which featured the amazing harmonies for which the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson are known. When Jardine took over the vocals on “Hawaii,” the crowd immediately began to cheer; he sang perfectly.
Wilson and the band amused the crowd by leading them in a sing-a-long of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” before moving into “Shut Down.” Jardine then sang “Cotton Fields (The Cotton Song),” during which it became apparent: His vocals have held up better than Wilson’s vocals. At times, it seemed as if Wilson was being carried by the two backing vocalists.
The harmonies were perfect during “In My Room” and “Surfer Girl,” with both songs sounding like they did on the 1960s recordings. Wilson then announced they would be turning over vocal duties on “Darlin’” to their keyboardist, Darian Sahanaja. He sang a lovely, soulful version of the song—but why was he singing it, rather than Wilson or Jardine? A couple of songs later, things got even stranger, when Wilson announced they were going to let a backup vocalist named Chad Odhner take a song—with Wilson adding that Chad had joined the band earlier in the day. Odhner’s vocals on “Don’t Worry Baby” were great—but, again, why weren’t one of the greats the audience paid to see handling the vocals?
One of the percussionists, Scott Bennett, handled the vocals on “Sail On, Sailor,” a song released in 1973 on the album Holland, which was made after Wilson had left the Beach Boys. Odhner was then given the lead vocals for “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” with Jardine and Wilson singing some of the backing harmonies. While this song is a Beach Boys classic, the vocals switch made it feel like it was being performed as part of a Las Vegas revue. Thankfully, a wonderful performance of “Sloop John B” followed; Wilson’s vocals didn’t sound as strong as they once were, but the song sounded great—and it was nice to hear Wilson taking the lead. Alas, Odhner was then given the lead on “God Only Knows.” Before the musicians left the stage for their encore, they launched into “Good Vibrations.” At one point, Wilson flubbed some of the lyrics and briefly appeared confused.
They definitely saved the best for last: In one of the longest encores I’ve ever seen, they performed “All Summer Long,” “Help Me Rhonda,” “I Get Around,” “Barbara Ann,” “Surfin’ U.S.A.” and “Fun, Fun, Fun.” Throughout the encore, audience members were on their feet, clapping, singing and dancing along.
Considering all that Brian Wilson has been through over the years, it’s nice to see that both he and Al Jardine are still able to put on a high-quality show. It would have been even better, though, had they not surrendered the lead vocals on so many of their great songs.
Photos by Guillermo Prieto/Irockphotos.net.