Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Beach Boys live in Singapore

Most of the surviving members of The Beach Boys are well into their late '60s and early '70s. Last night was their first-ever show on our shores, and I'm very fortunate to have gone, cause it probably will not happen ever again. Surprisingly, the concert wasn't as much a nostalgia fest I expected it to be. It seems the band still likes to challenge its audiences. Almost all the hits were in of course, but there was also a good mix of the lesser-known, even more obscure tunes that only the hardcore fans would know. The backing band was big, almost as big as the current E Street Band lineup. They consisted of the key members from Brian Wilson's longtime recording and touring band (like Jeff Foskett, Scott Bennett, Darian Sahanaja), and those from the previous Beach Boys touring band, under Love and Johnston.

There was an intermission after 1 hour 15 mins, and then they played for another good hour and slightly longer. 49 songs in total! And rather than stopping after every song, the band did the occasional medley without skipping a beat. Much of the onstage bantering was done obviously by leader, Mike Love, and occasionally Bruce Johnston, who was in a hyper mood all night. But it was Brian Wilson who always got the biggest cheers whenever he sang or was introduced. He looked detached and unmoved from everything, sitting behind his keyboard, on the left side. But then he would leave the stage really fast right before the intermission and encore! I think only on Sail On Sailor was he animated with his funny choreographed hand movements. Brian definitely isn't made for the stage the way Love, Al Jardine and David Marks are, but no one can deny what a bloody genius he is in the studio. He got up and played bass during the encore.

There were so many highlights. The two songs from the new album. Sloop John B. Bruce belting out Disney Girls. Love and Jardine on All This Is That. Brian on I Just Wasn't Made For These Times, which was the one song I never thought they'd do. The four-song car medley to close the first set. A great rendition of Pet Sounds opening the second set, featuring birthday boy, Marks, on the guitar. The beautiful Add Some Music To Your Day with the boys standing around Brian. And then the greatest pop tune ever crafted -- God Only Knows. Brian took this one, and apparently it's something that doesn't happen often on this tour, because the late Carl Wilson would usually sing from the video screen. Weirdly enough, there was not one mention of Carl and Dennis. The stage setup couldn't get any simpler. There was no giant screen behind and surfboards present, unlike the shows on the US tour. But the sound quality was more than decent, considering what sucky acoustics the Indoor Stadium has, and it was pretty loud too.

And then the harmonies. Oh my God. That's what I pay good money to hear. The harmonies were heavenly. The boys still got it in them, for the most part. Especially Jardine -- his voice still sounded more or less the same since the '60s. He especially killed on the covers, Cotton Fields, Then I Kissed Her and of course his signature Help Me Rhonda. Jeff Foskett and Darian took over for some of the Carl songs. Brian's voice wasn't as strong as the rest, but it felt good to hear him sing. The way he sings never fails to tug at my heartstrings. Heroes & Villains and Good Vibrations sounded very different from when Brian used to play onstage with his own band in the past. The backing band was really good and tight, and they breathed a new, youthful life into many of the songs with added interesting arrangements, creating a sort of ethereal quality that can't be replicated in the studio. Very fun show, and one of the most memorable I've seen at home in a long time.

1. Do It Again
2. Little Honda
3. Catch A Wave
4. Hawaii
5. Don't Back Down
6. Surfin' Safari
7. Surfer Girl
8. Wendy
9. This Whole World
10. Then I Kissed Her
11. Getcha Back
12. Isn't It Time
13. Come Go With Me
14. Why Do Fools Fall In Love
15. When I Grow Up
16. Disney Girls
17. Please Let Me Wonder
18. Good Timin'
19. It's Ok
20. Darlin'
21. Cotton Fields
22. Kiss Me, Baby
23. California Saga: California
24. Don't Worry Baby
25. Little Deuce Coupe
26. 409
27. Shut Down
28. I Get Around

29. Pet Sounds
30. Add Some Music To Your Day
31. Heroes And Villians
32. I Just Wasn't Made For These Times
33. Sloop John B
34. Wouldn't It Be Nice
35. In My Room
36. All This Is That
37. That's Why God Made The Radio
38. Sail On, Sailor
39. God Only Knows
40. Good Vibrations
41. California Girls
42. All Summer Long
43. Help Me, Rhonda
44. Rock & Roll Music
45. Do You Wanna Dance?
46. Surfin' USA

47. Kokomo
48. Barbara Ann
49. Fun, Fun, Fun