The Beach Boys, York Racecourse, 25.07.2014.

For those not familiar with the soap opera ‘The Beach Boys’, just a few pointers. After Carl Wilson’s death in ’98, Mike Love pretty much took control. Al Jardine left, reportedly unhappy that Love wanted to turn the group into a ‘party group’. Love subsequently took Jardine to court to stop him using the ‘Beach Boys’ name (does that sound familiar to Wishbone Ash and Animals fans?).  Brian Wilson was none too complimentary about Mr Love too, but a couple of years ago they all kissed and made up with a 50th Anniversary Tour. But now, it is back to a group featuring Love, Bruce Johnston and some hired hands.

Glorious sunshine, and after some irritating local radio man, on they come to ‘Do it Again’. With barely time to breathe, we get ‘Goin’ to the beach’, ‘Little Honda’, ‘Catch a wave’ and ‘Hawaii’.  ‘Surf City’, the Jan and Dean hit that catches out lots of PQT’s (Pub Quiz Tw*ts), makes up a surf trilogy with ‘Surfin’ Surfari’ and ‘Surfer Girl’.    Arguably the world’s best ever ‘B’ side, ‘Don’t worry baby’, is next, followed by a batch of ‘car’ songs, namely ‘Little Deuce Coupe’, ‘409’, ‘Shut Down’ ,’I get around’ and ‘ Ballad of old Betsy’. ‘Why do fools fall in love’ and another hit single  ‘Darlin’ follow , with (I think), ‘Don’t back down’ in close pursuit and , to the amazement of all there, on then comes Roy Wood for ‘Fire Brigade’!!!*

The second hour carries on with ‘Cottonfields’, and a 12-string guitar introduces ‘California Dreaming’ ( a much-overlooked single which featured Roger McGuinn). ‘Sloop John B’ ( a tune suggested by Al Jardine which sat uneasily on ‘Pet Sounds’) preceded the classic chiming intro to ‘Wouldn’t it be nice’ . Strangely, the same fly that zoomed into her Ladyship’s eye then attacked my eye too! How bizarre!   No let up in the party atmosphere, with ‘Then I kissed her’, ‘ California Girls’ , before a poignant ‘God only knows’ featuring the vocals of Carl Wilson on a back drop. The best single ever made?  It is for me. ‘Pisces Brothers’ is a surprise inclusion, but ‘Good Vibrations’ certainly is not. ‘Kokomo’ was a surprise US No.1 in 1988, and ‘Help me Rhonda’, ‘Do you wanna dance’, ‘Barbara Ann’ and ‘Surfin’ USA’ brought a hit-packed set to a close.

Encore featured ‘Wild Honey’ and Roy Wood came back out for ‘Fun, fun, fun’.   So what about the scores from the judges?  It was far better than I expected, close to 10 out of 10.  OK, maybe not quite up with what for me was one of the best gigs I have ever seen (The Beach Boys at Wembley in 1975, blowing Elton John completely away), but well up there. Was there anything missing? ‘In my room’, ‘I can hear music’, ‘Heroes and Villains’  maybe, but that would be nit-picking.

Mike Love (and Mr Johnston) have assembled an excellent touring Beach Boys outfit (as have Graham Gouldman and David Nelson with 10cc and the New Riders of the Purple Sage respectively). All the hired hands sing and play really well. They put on a great performance of Beach Boy classics, and if you can’t quite come to terms with the manner in which Mr Love has conducted his affairs, remember Her Ladyship’s mantra. ‘It’s the art, not the artist’. People such as Tony Hancock, Steve McQueen, John Denver, Leonard Rossiter and John Thaw were notoriously (allegedly)  ‘difficult’ ( Van Gogh too?), but it doesn’t stop people liking their craft. And, dare I say it, I thought Gary Glitter was great!  How does that fit in?!

A brilliant concert, one that I only discovered by chance and would have been gutted to have missed.

* I am always aware that I may make some factual errors in my reviews, but I don’t get paid for the reviews. So interesting that the York press featured a brief review stating that the Roy Wood contribution was ‘Blackberry Way’!!  And presumably the person is a paid member of staff.  So …a ) I am wrong, it wasn’t ‘Fire Brigade’ or b) The reporter was there and is  ridiculously erroneous or c) The reporter gave his/her press pass to a friend , who also hasn’t got a clue, and subsequently gave his/her  partner in crime duff info .   I can assure you the answer is not a).

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