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Concert Review: Beach Boys bring all the hits to Segerstrom

Even with only two members from the 1960s lineup, the iconic band delivers on sound and nostalgia.

December 09, 2013|By Michael Miller
  • The Beach Boys perform for the first time at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts on Saturday.
The Beach Boys perform for the first time at the Segerstrom… (Segerstrom Center…)

Every journey begins with a small step, and Saturday night at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, the crowd got a glimpse of the man whose modest act started the Beach Boys' climb toward superstardom.

Before the band took the stage for its first-ever Segerstrom show, Wink Martindale — the Southern California disc jockey who was apparently the first to play the Boys' 1961 debut single, "Surfin'," on the air — gave a brief speech and noted his contribution to the band's history. Back then, the group was a regional combo with a single on the tiny Candix label, and the song's Billboard peak at No. 75 would have been a high point for most bands.

But most bands aren't the Beach Boys. When Martindale asked audience members in Segerstrom Hall to yell out the title of their favorite Beach Boys tune, the resulting cacophony of voices provided all the introduction the band needed.

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For the next hour and a half, it was hits, hits and more hits, as the touring band led by Mike Love and Bruce Johnston tore through half a century of material — even if, predictably, the bulk of the tunes predated 1970. A cynic might argue that this version of the group, which lacks creative leader Brian Wilson and vintage members Al Jardine and David Marks, qualifies as the Beach Boys only in name. But the classic songs, most of them performed here in arrangements nearly identical to the studio originals, have a way of standing on their own.

The Segerstrom performance, billed as the Beach Boys Christmas Show, celebrated one of the last century's great artistic achievements and also one of its most durable cash cows. No doubt a figure exists somewhere for how much the Beach Boys' catalog is worth, but after decades of radio play, ad jingles, beach parties, movie soundtracks and more, the true value is probably immeasurable.

Given that the Beach Boys — unlike, say, Bob Dylan — aren't famous for reinventing their material live, the best way to summarize a concert like Saturday's might simply be to list the song titles. "I Get Around," "Surfin' U.S.A.," "Don't Worry Baby," "Surfer Girl," "Surfin' Safari," "Little Deuce Coupe," "Good Vibrations," "Fun, Fun, Fun," "California Girls," "Help Me, Rhonda" — they all sounded more or less the way you remember them.

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