The Beach Boys in CT

2010-12-07 15:40
A stampede of gray-haired baby boomers walked smiling in Florida shirts and Hawaiian flower necklaces toward the Grand Arena adjusting reading frames for the arrival onstage of the iconic surf rock act, The Beach Boys.

Small groups of twenty-somethings sat amongst what might or might not have been their parents; no one too cool to make eye contact. Notably missing was generation x. “They’ll be at the Rammstein show,” a friend said still half-chewing a KFC Hawaiian wrap or something.

When remaining 60s members Mike Love and Bruce Johnston walked onstage playing a lesser-overplayed tune, the yet-absent stage lighting confused the audience into thinking they are just walking onstage, the record playing. It was that good. God only knows.

The band’s only original surviving member, Mike Love, injected humorous banter when the band needed to switch between the often-overlapping and enduring themes of their music: girls, cars and surfin’. As ever, his deep, smooth lover boy voice contrasted his youthful nasal delivery during songs.

Great sound

The sound is extraordinarily sharp, with newer members Christian Love (guitar and vocals), Randell Kirsch (bass and vocals), Tim Bonhomme (keyboards and vocals) and Scott Totten (guitar and vocals) paying great tribute to their more illustrious predecessors. The band’s famous vocal harmonies are precise and neatly cut off to avoid breaking any of the abundant reading glasses.

John Cowsill on percussion and vocals was the evening’s greatest surprise. His wild, hair-swinging singing paid worthy tribute to Carl Wilson on “Darlin’” from the band’s 1967 Wild Honey album. Wilson sadly lost his life to cancer in 1998.

Purists might have missed the darker side of The Beach Boys – one that was usually brought by influential and troubled co-founder Brian Wilson. The rest of the audience did not seem to mind, though; it was the songs that mattered. And happy the songs were.

The only forgettable moment was Top Billing’s Jeannie D’s semi-rehearsed entrance on stage. It might have appealed to those who enjoy the band’s songs only for their ironic first level listen and cheesy nostalgia. No doubt that piece of “spontaneity” will be seen again on Top Billing later.

A young woman a few seats away sat looking at her boyfriend from the side. Eyebrows pointing up, she kissed his face and her moist eyes said: you played this song for me when you were too embarrassed to actually say these words and I love you.


When the tropical drum sound of “Kokomo” filled the large arena, the audience clapped hard to overcome lumps in throats. The 1988 hit could have been the soundtrack when half the audience was newly wed, the other half kicking the beat against from inside a pregnant belly.

When the aging men politely requested to depart, Love made a reference to the snow on Table Mountain. The surprisingly funny 69-year-old wiped sweat from under his signature baseball cap on a summer day reaching almost 30 degrees Celsius before wishing the audience a merry Christmas in song.

Cars packed with smiles left the arena silently, the parking lot’s cobbled stones rocking everyone half asleep. Good vibrations.

The Beach Boys still have what it takes to impress both original band fans and their kids alike.
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