The Beach Boys are a legendary band who somehow defy all constraints of time and space, still influencing artists 50 years on. To get the chance to witness such an act live and in the flesh seemed to good to be true and the type of thing only possible with a healthy imagination… or possibly a time machine.
Yet for one night only, founding member Mike Love, alongside long-standing members Bruce Johnston and David Marks, were bringing a welcome slice of California to the lavish confines of Manchester’s Apollo Theatre. With a bumper set consisting of a whopping fifty-four songs, the performance only left me questioning my own vigor (or lack thereof). How a band with an average age of seventy could effortlessly deliver this juggernaut three-hour session of surf pop makes me want to lie down just thinking about it.
The Beach Boys performed a diverse selection of tracks that would test the knowledge of even the most die-hard fan. Starting with the aptly titled ‘Surfin’ (were you aware The Beach Boys liked to surf?), the band played a cool eight songs in a row without once coming up for air. The evening included various covers from The Ronettes, Chuck Berry and The Crystals as well as various tributes to past members and pals who are now catching a wave on that big beach in the sky.
Tributes to Carl Wilson and Brother Dennis were heartwarming as old recordings saw them take the lead vocals on ‘God Only Knows’ and ‘Do You Wanna Dance’, accompanied by scenes of classic footage. A tribute to George Harrison was particularly memorable as Mike Love described their time in India together, before playing the tear-jerking ‘Pisces Brothers’.
It has to be noted that Love’s vocals haven’t even aged a day and closing your eyes could easily see you suddenly surrounded by screaming girls back in 1963. You couldn’t help but smile as Love blew kisses to female members in the crowd, waving and winking at others as though he could still get student discount at Topman.
Vocal harmonies were flawless throughout the night, but most notably as they captivated Manchester Apollo with an a-cappella version of The Four Freshman’s ‘Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring’. Being treated to the first live appearance of ‘Surf’s Up’ since 1975 was the icing on the cake as everything from ‘I Get Around’, ‘Surfin’ USA’, ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ (and even a rousing cover of The Regents’ ‘Barbara Ann’) got the audience of all ages on their feet for the final crescendo of the evening.
Even despite the notable absence of surviving members Al Jardine and Love’s infamous cousin Brain Wilson, nobody can deny that this incarnation of The Beach Boys’ are keeping the dream alive and undeniably bringing such timeless songs to a whole new generation.