The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Reunion Tour at Rock in Roma!

The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Reunion Tour at Rock in Roma!

Very few bands over the years have given me the pure, unadulterated listening pleasure of the Beach Boys. As a child growing up in the UK, I remember always listening to the Beach Boys with my sister at the start of the school summer holidays - this joyous pop music would somehow herald the start of the summer for us. As an adult I discovered the more sophisticated side of the Beach Boys and Pet Sounds quickly made its way into my list of top ten favourite albums. When I heard that after years of legal wrangling the original band members had seemingly buried the hatchet and would be performing again in a 50th Anniversary Reunion Tour I knew that this really was a chance to see musical history in the making and a rare opportunity to see my musical heroes live on stage! On Thursday evening the band brought this amazing show to the Ippodromo delle Capannelle as part of the 2012 Rock in Roma festival.

The reunion concert tour opens every night with the eminently appropriate Do It Again, the first of a staggering 45 song setlist which spans 50 years. From the pure pop of the early 1960s classics celebrating California surf and car culture - Little Honda, Catch a Wave, Surfin' Safari, and Little Deuce Coup to name but a few - right up to this year's brand new single That’s Why God Made the Radio, the tour takes us on an exhilarating journey through the musical history of one of the most important bands of all time. There were also nods to the 1950s and the influence of Doo-wap with excellent covers of the Dell Vikings' Come And Go With Me and Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers' Why Do Fools Fall in Love, as well as a tribute to 1960s close harmony group the Mamas & the Papas with a wonderful California Dreamin'.

At the beginning of Be True to Your School, the band joked about their ages as Mike Love dropped to his knees to sing an extra long opening note, only to be then “helped” to his feet by his band mates to the sound of creaking noises! Indeed, with most of the Beach Boys approaching their seventies, they could be forgiven for any slight vocal imperfections, but in fact, they are all still in very fine voice. Mike Love and Al Jardine took the majority of the lead vocals during the evening, with the gregarious Love also acting as emcee for the evening, playing to crowd and clearly loving every minute of his time on stage. His distinctive baritone sounded great on I Get Around, whilst Jardine belted out a stunning Cotton Fields, as well a wonderful All Summer Long, which segued into the foot stomping crowd pleaser Help Me Rhonda. Bruce Johnston was on keyboards for most of the evening, but he took a turn on lead for Wendy, whilst guitarist David Marks, whose Chuck Berry inspired guitar licks on Fun Fun Fun and Surfin' Safari are so much a part of the Beach Boys sound, provided a gorgeous lead vocal on Getcha Back. Brian Wilson, the undisputed Beach Boys genius sat rather impassively behind the piano for much of the show, but the moments when he sang lead were truly very special indeed: the poppy You're So Good To Me; a marvellous Sail on Sailor; the concert highlight, Heroes and Villains, which saw the Beach Boys on stage together at last performing a track from the legendary SMiLE album, with its complex multi-part harmonies; and an achingly lovely God Only Knows from Pet Sounds, where Brian Wilson sang his late brother's Carl's part. In My Room was a show stopping demonstration of how all their voices still fit so well together.

The Beach Boys were augmented on stage by a formidable backing band of nine extra players with very nearly honorary Beach Boy Jeff Foskett adding a perfect falsetto on Don't Worry Baby, whilst Darian Sahanaja sang a cracking version of Darlin', another Carl Wilson number.

Wouldn't It Be Nice, the opening track from Pet Sounds literally brought the house down, with the swirling magic of Good Vibrations coming in quick succession, followed by the iconic California Girls. It was a dizzyingly brilliant setlist! After two hours and forty odd songs, the Beach Boys left the stage, briefly, before being cheered back for a three song encore – Kokomo, Do You Wanna Dance? and a final Fun Fun Fun. The entire extended band took their bows to deafening cheers and applause, and left the stage to the sound of the crowd still singing the falsetto from Fun Fun Fun! An truly unforgettable night!

Full setlist:
  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. It’s OK
  9. Getcha Back
  10. You're So Good to Me
  11. Then I Kissed Her
  12. Please Let Me Wonder
  13. Wendy
  14. Come And Go With Me (Dell Vikings cover)
  15. Why Do Fools Fall in Love (Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers cover)
  16. When I Grow Up (to be a Man)
  17. Darlin'
  18. Cottonfields
  19. Be True to Your School
  20. Don't Worry Baby
  21. Little Deuce Coupe
  22. 409
  23. I Get Around
  24. In My Room
  25. California Saga (On My Way to Sunny Californ-i-a)
  26. Sail On Sailor
  27. All This is That
  28. Good Timin'
  29. Heroes and Villains
  30. That’s Why God Made the Radio
  31. California Dreamin’ (The Mamas & the Papas cover)
  32. God Only Knows
  33. Sloop John B
  34. Wouldn't It Be Nice
  35. Good Vibrations
  36. California Girls
  37. All Summer Long
  38. Help Me Rhonda
  39. Rock and Roll Music (Chuck Berry cover)
  40. Barbara Ann
  41. Surfin' USA
  42. Encore
  43. Kokomo
  44. Do You Wanna Dance?
  45. Fun Fun Fun