I sat in the 10th row center. By the second set, the Beachboys had everyone on their feet, stomping, hooting, hollering, singing, and passing the beachball around. Down a few rows to my left I could clearly see a fuzzy white head of permed hair bouncing in perfect time to the beat. As the person in front of me moved, I saw a woman who had to be in her 90’s. She would have been a 40 year old mom when the Beachboys first came out. She didn’t miss one song, one beat, or even one beachball headed her way. It was heartwarming and life affirming to watch her.
This was the first stop on their 50th Anniversary Reunion Tour. They played for 2 hours and 42 minutes. We got 42 songs with only a short break between sets. The air was electric and felt like family. It also felt a little like home to me: most of the men were wearing Aloha shirts.
When Brian Wilson was spotlighted, the crowd went wild. He has had challenges his entire life. Some of the self-induced. But there he was, at his piano, hanging in with the other 14 musicians on stage. God Bless him.
There was also a magical moment when the band sang backup to two videos of their departed brothers: Dennis and Carl Wilson. Mike Love later teared up when I told him how meaningful that was. He said, “You can’t imagine how hard it was to introduce those pieces. Maybe it will get easier by the end of the tour.”
This 50th Anniversary Reunion Tour of the Beachboys was a gift for my birthday from a very good friend who also happened to be related to one of the original Beachboys. I was privileged to sit in on rehearsals, then in a posh seat near the front for the concert. Afterwards, we had dinner with Mike Love and Al Jardine and all their families. It’s a memory I will cherish forever.
What sticks with me are two magical moments:
- At one point during the second set, I had to sit for a spell. We had been on our feet for two hours by then. In the cocoon of my chair, surrounded by 5 thousand fans, I could hear everyone singing along, in perfect harmony with the Beachboys up on stage. It sounded like the audience were the singers and the band was backing them up.
- Later I wandered over to the concession stand during the break. An enthusiastic 23 year old girl started raving to me about her new “find” – the aging, 70-something Beachboys! Her find! I’ve been listening to them since, well, since they actually WERE boys. And here, reaching across the generations we have a 90 year old grandma, an aging baby boomer, and a 20-something girl, all appreciating the same music. It’s the essence of connectivity and the resilience of the human spirit.
We were all one for just a tiny blip on the screen. Music does connect us all.
May today be a day at the beach for you!