An incredible start to the UK Wild Honey tour! Posted on May 20, 2017 at 11:40:20 by Robin Jones
Two years ago, I said that the Beach Boys touring band could not get any better since the magnificent Summer Days and Summer Nights! UK tour. Sorry – they have proved me wrong and big time.
The Wild Honey tour which in the UK kicked off on Thursday evening upped the ante several notches from where the band left off in 2015.
Clearly, a phenomenal amount of meticulous planning and preparation has gone into this tour, not only with liquid harmonies again honed to perfection at every turn, but a fascinating backdrop comprising a video screen which superbly reinforced the band’s history and which spanned all of the past 56 years: we see the earlier archive footage of the band with Brian in action, the promo videos for Pet Sounds, and even a younger Jeffrey Foskett in his first spell with the band 30 years ago!
The videos were synchronised to a split second with the action on stage, and provided a visual reference to many of the songs as performed “first time round”. The wonders of modern audio-visual technology even allowed the great Carl Wilson to sing lead on Good Vibrations and Dennis on Do You Wanna Dance.
Captivating as the video backdrop was, it could never detract from the live performance. Firmly built on the bedrock of the two original members, the videos provided evidence that Mike and Bruce have, incredibly, lost none of their ability of entertain venues big and small with the passing of the decades. Bruce did a mean lead on Wendy and Disney Girls (1957) along with other cuts, and while it was raining heavily across all of southern England outside Mike’s nasal vocals, a distinctive feature of the band yesterday and today, on songs like When I Grow Up (To Be A Man) and Rock ’n’ Roll Music said it al loud and clear: summer’s here!
The Royal Albert Hall was designed for harmonic resonance, and as such was the perfect setting for the world’s greatest vocal band of all time. The other band members used it to maximum effect: Jeff’s leads on Caroline No and Don’t Worry Baby started out as sublime and got better from there, Brian Eichenberger blew me (and everyone else) away with You Still Believe In Me, and without intending to single any one band member out, Scott Totton gave his finest performance that I have personally seen at a live show. His rendition of Let Him Run Wild was performed with such sheer energy, drive and enthusiasm that if I didn’t know better I would have thought he had written the song himself. It has been said before, but the ‘wildman’ drum solos of John Cowsill (superb on Wild Honey by the way) were so reminiscent of one of his predecessors who featured heavily in the videos.
For those who went along to hear the hits, they were not disappointed, and the hardcore fans like me were left delighted with the choice of rarer cuts, notably Aren’t You Glad with Mike on lead, an updated version of Getcha Back (is it really 32 years since that song was release), most of the Pet Sounds album, and Pisces Brothers, Mike’s thoughtful and touching tribute to British icon George Harrison.
A surprise addition to the set was Lady Lynda, of the big UK hits of the summer of 1979, complete with original lyrics.
Then there was the environmental song Summer In Paradise, the title track from the very under-rated and other overlooked 1993 album, together with a nice plug for the water charity which the band is supporting – well done boys there.
Watching from the stalls having flown in from LA specially for the show was none other than Marilyn Rutherford-Wilson and her husband Daniel. Mike acknowledged her part in the band’s history from the stage – again a nice touch completing a circle.
The set lasted three hours and five minutes minus an interval, or rather intermission, of about 25 minutes. Can anyone tell me if any of the world’s major rock bands can beat that for stamina and endurance without loss of quality? There was hardly a gap between songs to allow band members to gather breath, and indeed, I soon lost count of how many tracks were being performed – next time I will take a pocket calculator. Some has since informed me it was 49.
The video screen reminded us that in 1967, the UK voted the Beach Boys, ahead of our own Beatles, as the number one band in the world. The line-up may have changed (this one is, for me, vocally the strongest one of the past 20 years), but if someone were to propose that that accolade be made permanent half a century on, I think it would have been a struggle to find any dissenting voices in the Royal Albert Hall on May 18. How many other bands can play 173 shows a year and pull off stunners like this?
So next stop for the band and me is Scarborough’s Open Air Theatre on Wednesday.
It will be a unique case of “surf is coming home” for there is no place more historically appropriate in the UK for a Beach Boys concert.
Why? Because Scarborough in generally held by historian to be the first-ever seaside resort in Britain, if not the world.
Scarborough was established as a spa resort after a source of mineral water was discovered there in 1626, but a century later, rich spa visitors from London were bemused to see a woman regularly taking dips in the ocean and viewed her as stark raving bonkers. However, her enthusiasm for a dip in the waves each day caught on big time and by 1735, bathing machines had appeared on the beach. The town and summertime everywhere have never looked back!
After Scarborough, the band will be off to Gateshead and then a tour of Scotland.
So – if there are still tickets available at your nearest venue, snap them up now like the proverbial alligator on steroids. This tour is not one to be missed.