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31 Aug 2014

Live: Brian Wilson and Al Jardine at Fantasy Springs, Aug. 30

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Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and company. Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and company. Guillermo Prieto/Irockphotos.net

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.

6 comments

  • Comment Link Ed Angelo Sunday, 17 July 2016 11:25 posted by Ed Angelo

    Chad Odhner has the most perfect falsetto of any of the "back-up vocalists " since our beloved Brian fell victim to issues in his past. Being a trained vocalist myself I always recognized that Brian Wilson had theeee purest falsetto in Rock & Roll . Sadly, smoking, drugs and alcohol, compounded to a tormented past, wore away his vocal range along with its tonal quality __ ergo__ reducing it to a much lesser degree in capturing those high dulcet tones that once shaped his sound. For many, many years Brian has had to transfer vocals (especially the high end vocals) to a younger voice__since age also weighs heavily on how a singer's vocal cords react (sometimes for the worst). Don't forget, Brian is in his 70's. Chad Odhner is spot on brilliant and if he trains and cares for his GOD GIVEN GIFT he will ease into a long musical career. But Brian created the sound that we all love. We all miss Brian's beautiful voice but, in reality it is time to face facts__that was then and this is now! Brian is still BRIAN WILSON and no one can ever take that away from him. When you attend a Brian Wilson performance you must understand that we all are remembering back & honoring a musical Hero and feeling his musical greatness touch us as it always did. If is unfair to expect everything to remain the same! We are Blessed just to have Brian still with us.
    Nevertheless Brian is not really able to sing the way he did when he was 19 years old. Nor can any of us! Thank You for listening to my opinion.

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  • Comment Link Jim Tuesday, 28 July 2015 09:26 posted by Jim

    I know I'm almost a year late on this post, but need to mention that they likely let Chad Odhner sing because (as the post by Frank mentioned) he's spent many years honoring the Beach Boys as a member of the stunning tribute band, The Fendertones. Google them and listen to their version of of "Let Him Run Wild" (performed way back in 2007.) Chad sings it as well as Brian in the studio and maybe better than Brian ever did onstage. I think it's great that Brian and Al recognized him in this way.

    Love the Beach Boys.

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  • Comment Link steve j Saturday, 20 June 2015 18:57 posted by steve j

    Chad s voice is awesome...great to let him do those songs...why not ?? he sounds like 1965 !!!!!!

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  • Comment Link Frank Tuesday, 02 September 2014 17:40 posted by Frank

    Check out Chad Odhner and The Fendertones at their FaceBook page....you are in for a real treat... the Beach Boys never sounded so great! The Fendertones are one of the best Beach Boy cover bands I know and rival The Wrecking Crew. Enoy! Frank

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  • Comment Link Marvin Sunday, 31 August 2014 21:54 posted by Marvin

    I appreciated that Brian handed over the more difficult vocals to others (who were all excellent). There was a great mix of songs. Brian Wilson is the Beach Boys and gave us a great performance. I wish it would not have ended.

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  • Comment Link Joe Sunday, 31 August 2014 21:49 posted by Joe

    You missed a good one.

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