The Beach Boys


When the surviving members of The original Beach Boys took to the stage on July 7, 2012 in Phoenix AZ, the announcer read off their names: Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, David Marks, Bruce Johnston and "Michael Edward Love." This emphasis on Mike Love seemed to reflect what the Beach Boys touring company has become in recent years—the Mike Love band featuring Bruce Johnston and whomever Love deigns to share the stage with.

For most of 2012, of course, Love had to once again integrate his voice into the trademark Beach Boys harmonies for a media publicity blitz, a new album, and an international tour featuring both official Beach Boys as well as musicians who've been part of the backing bands for various members. It's a milestone year for the extended Wilson family, and this is especially true for seeing and hearing Brian Wilson on the same stage with Al, David, Mike and Bruce for the first time in decades.

So you'd think a concert DVD would not only attempt to capture that moment in history but also the magic you'd hope would have happened that night in Arizona. However, this DVD doesn't offer much magic to represent this tour.

For one matter, this is a very thin package. Judging from online accounts from folks who saw the shows, this set of 21 hits and old album tracks contains less than half of the songs that were actually performed. Knowing the full concert was actually longer might help explain the workmanlike, hit-and-run show this seems to be. What we see is a batch of guys running through old numbers as if nothing special is going on for them. You'd think some in-between song banter and behind-the-scenes stories might make the event les robotic. On the disc, there's no overt tribute to either Dennis or Carl Wilson, although apparently there were such homages but not demonstrated here.

What magic there is is in the harmonies which were re-created with various ensembles as, of course, Carl and Dennis are no longer with us. But the sound isn't mixed with perfect clarity and the overall combination of vocals and instrumentation seems thrown-together and competent, but not worthy of a celebration of a legendary band. True, we get the first ever live rendition of the group's newest single, "That's Why God Made the Radio." But that's not enough to raise this concert to something memorable.

Considering the "50th Anniversary" title, you'd think there would be not only more of the live material, but worthy bonus features to go with it. For example, during the group's June 2 show, the Boys were joined onstage by California Saga which is a group made up of 8 children of Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson, Mike Love and Al Jardine. Surely, that event was recorded. Surely, that event and some commentary and interviews could have been included here? In fact, there's not one single bonus feature at all.

Well, the whirlwind tour is apparently now history with the Beach Boys again, at least for the present, the Mike Love Band. The DVD commemorating the reunion won't please many Beach Boys fans but will likely be purchased simply to see those five grandfathers still singing about hot rods and hot girls. "At least," my wife said looking at the group, "they don't look as bad as the Stones."

Follow Here To Purchase Live in Concert: 50th Anniversary [Blu-ray]

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