The Beach Boys in Thousand Oaks

Went to see The Beach Boys at the Fred Kavli Theatre in Thousand Oaks last night.

Fronted by original members Mike Love and Bruce Johnston, the seven-piece band played a highly-spirited two-set show full of touching moments, fine musicianship, and gorgeous harmonies.

Since the Beach Boys’ hits were generally two-plus minute AM radio wonders, the band was able to pack about twenty hit songs into the first hour or so, opening with six-in-a-row…closing with a medley of “car” hits, Little Honda, Little Deuce Coupe, and 409.

I cannot list all forty or so tunes they played; they were a veritable greatest hits list to be sure plus half a dozen lesser and unknown songs to boot. Though much of the original band was missing, you wouldn’t know it if you closed your eyes…you know, some bands are lucky to sing in harmony, two-part, three-part, four-part (like the Eagles), but the Beach Boys sang in SIX-part harmony almost all night. And let me tell you, every one of those guys had a beautiful voice — I think they have cornered the market on quality first tenors. Even the drummer, who had more of a gutsy rock-and-roll voice, sang lead on a trio of numbers, opening the second set with California Dreamin’.

There was a lovely tribute to Carl Wilson, where his lead vocal was laid over their playing of God Only Knows. There was an unexpected tribute/song to George Harrison given by Mike Love as he described a kinship he developed with the late Beatle during their time with the Maharishi in the late 60’s. (Toward the end, my wife Rhonda and I were thrilled when the band and entire audience sang Help Me, Rhonda).

With Mike Love holding down the vocal bottom (and still singing quite well I might add), Johnston, the guitarists (the lead guitarist nailed every hook) and the bass player (whose names I didn’t recognize) were able to bring their songs to life absolutely beautifully with those unmistakable hooks, reminiscent leads and angelic high harmonies. The audience, though gray and geriatric indeed, gave the band rousing cheers and energetic applause all night long — and really well-deserved.

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