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The Boys are back on stage

Band plays old and new tunes during anniversary tour stop at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre.

June 11, 2012|By Heather Youmans, Special to the Daily Pilot
  • Members of The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, David Marks, Mike Love and Al Jardine, play their hit songs at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater on Sunday.
Members of The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, David Marks,… (Heather Youmans,…)

As lifelong fans gathered to see the reunited Beach Boys play the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Irvine on June 3, there was an undeniable aura of nostalgia in the endless summer air.

After playing a sold-out show at the Hollywood Bowl on June 2, the Beach Boys' 50th anniversary tour led the group to Orange County, which has happily embodied the surf culture popularized in their harmony-driven surf rock.

Generations of Beach Boys enthusiasts, including college students, families and older fans, nearly filled the amphitheater, leaving only a few nose-bleed seats open.

Opening act California Saga, featuring eight Beach Boys offspring, put their own twist on the band's classics and drew a well-deserved standing ovation.

With the crowd warmed up, the Beach Boys took the stage for the appropriate-for-a-reunion "Do It Again," a tune from the band's 1969 album "20/20."

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Mike Love served as the wise-cracking master of ceremonies, at one point sliding down to his knees to milk an opening note. Realizing he couldn't get up, or at least pretending, fellow members David Marks and Bruce Johnston helped him to his feet accompanied by a creaking sound effect.

With that, they addressed the elephant in the amphitheater: They're not boys — not what they used to be.

Today's quintet features original guitarist Marks, the youngest at 63; longtime members Al Jardine, Brian Wilson and Johnston, who all turn 70 this year; and Love, 71.

More than 40 songs were packed into the three-hour concert, broken up by an intermission. Selections included Chuck Berry and Lead Belly covers, as well as classic hits and more unfamiliar tunes opening the second half.

Set list highlights included: "Catch a Wave," "Surfin' Safari," "Surfer Girl," "409," "I Get Around," "Good Vibrations," "California Girls," "In My Room," "Surfin' USA," "Kokomo," "Fun, Fun, Fun," "Wouldn't It Be Nice." Dean Torrence, of surf-rock duo Jan and Dean, joined in on "Barbara Ann."

The members' voices have deteriorated with time. Everything sounded two whole steps lower, and tempos were slightly slower, but the signature sound remained, Wilson's intricate harmonies were still sweet.

The core members were supported, and at times shown up by, a first-class backing band that authentically captured the original Wrecking Crew sound. Jeffrey Foskett, in particular, effortlessly took on the demanding falsetto parts that Wilson could no longer reach.

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