Written By: Stomp

Review of the Beach Boys Irish Concert by  Michael (Dino) McLennan:

View: seat stage left 3 rows from the front

OK, extremely loud Hawiian shirt? Check. Beach Boys tour shirt? Check.   Vintage Beach Boys stage crew pass [off of Ebay] check. “Medicine” bag/ruck sack ? Check, [well us over 40’s need fortified don’t we.] Gig ticket and digital cameras ? Check.    Good, I’m now ready to hit the Waterfront Hall, Belfast and catch the ‘Boys live.  

But first i’ve arranged to meet Bruce [Johnston] pre gig cos he very kindly invited me to the sound check – dont ask, i’d have to shoot you, BUT I will only say that Beach Boys Britain Yellow Board gets to the parts other boards don’t!

I’m to be at the stage door of the Waterfront at 4.30pm when Bruce will roll in with the band, seek me out and whisk me in to the inner sanctum of Beach Boyness. Well as this is rock n rolll and real time doesnt apply, I decide to try and make my own way in to the venue which is [obviously] closed at this time apart from the restaurent, which I step in to, hint to someone Im with the band and could they show me the stage area. My garish, sub Californian attire obviously impresses and Im ushered in to the back stage area where I meet Gary, a tour manager who kindly tells me to make myself comfortable, the band will be here shortly and he’ll let Bruce know Im here.

Half an hour later as I wait anxiously, [inwardly] but to any passers by I’m the epitome of cool and calmness, I hear a California accent calling “Dino, are you there Dino?” Mmn, that must be me thinks I, being quick on the uptake, and get up and open the  outer stage door and let in Bruce. ” Hi, you looking for me?” I ask trying to stay calm and un-star struck, ” Great to meet you Bruce and thanks for the sound check invite.”

“No problem Dino, and likewise, so where’s the dressing rooms?” And so for the next two hours I became what it must be like to be bezy mates with Bruce Johnston. Well thats the way I felt as Bruce chatted away, casually included me in his company and introduced me to friends and family, and told me to “make myself at home” on the stage as the guys started tuning up and playing their way through the sound check. And to make sure there were no access problems Bruce gave me HIS own VIP All Areas Laminate! It was a privilege to be literally up close with the Beach Boys as they ran through so many classic songs and I felt like one of the chosen few. It was a bigger privilege to be in Bruce’s company for that time, as he got on with his job but still found time to make me one of the gang, with no airs and graces; I think Dave Grohl has just lost his title as the nicest person in rock!

Fast forward a couple a couple of hours and Im taking my seat stage left 3 rows from the front in Belfast’s sold out Waterfront Hall. 

As usual for a Beach Boys gig the large , sell out crowd is of a cosmopolitan demograph both in age and dress sense and maybe being Belfast, there are a fair sprinkling of what Mike Love would call *squares*, but hey, we’re all here for the same reason!

A backing tape of the original Surfin’ ushers the band on stage and they seamlessly join in eventually taking over the track completely live. To get those golden tonsils warmed up the first six songs are a medley of the afore mentioned Surfin,Catch A Wave,Hawaii, Lil Honda, a brief Bruce intro for Do It Again, Surf City and Surfin Safari.

Ive seen the Beach Boys 3 times before, starting in 1999 and watching them is like slipping on your favourite jeans and trainers after  a hot bath,  you know what to expect but you’re always surprised at how good it feels.

The band  play for nearly 2 hours  [though that flies by in a blink of an eye] with all the usual suspects present and very much correct. Every song is faultless, with perfect harmony’s, faithfull original arrangements and just perfect lead vocals. Mike is still every inch the charming show man and though some of his intro’s and patter may be familiar to those who go to multi concerts, it is always engaging and amusing. Bruce is like an overgrown teenager, jumping around behind his keyboard and exhorting the crowd to clap, and get up and dance. His natural enthusiasm and enjoyment transmits all round the hall and perfectly reflects his personality and attitude to life. The band are just sooo on it in every area. Scott Totten’s guitar playing always on the money, Randal Kirsch on bass such a cool dude with an amazing falsetto and the human dynamo that is John Cowsill on drums and vocals. I mean how do you sing Darling and batter the cr*p out of the kit at the same time???Amazing!

They’re not afraid to pull out some of the “lesser” known songs from the old baseball hat either with a vocal perfect Their Hearts Were Full of Spring and a pumping Bluebirds Over The Mountain complete with that quirky guitar solo. Likewise So Young was a real treat and took you right back to that old scratchy Today  vinyl album.

Moving in to the second half of the show [that means  ANOTHER  19 songs not counting encores!] the crowd finally chuck away their last vestiges of reserve and get down and with it as Lil Deuce Coupe throws the “Lets Have a Party” switch. Not that there was ever any doubt but Belfast now belongs to Mike and Bruce and the crowd will surf this rockin’  wave all the way up the beach. Apart from ‘Spring, In My Room, Cool Head Warm Heart and God Only Knows it is now rock n roll all the way home.

Bruce always remembers Carl and plays Good Vibrations “for the great Carl Wilson”. Mike, the charmer keeps the crowd eating out of his hand for California Girls,singing “Northern Ireland girls” in the chorus – wonder if he’s ever done that at any other venue? Wouldnt It Be Nice gets everyone  doing a major sing-along which is spine tingling on the ” you know it seems the more we talk about it….” bridge. Help Me Rhonda gets the last sitting stragglers mopped up, on their feet and heading for stage front where a nearly punk like Do You Wanna Dance tests the pacemakers and stamina to the limit. Kokomo is the first encore and allows everyone to get their breath back before a rocking Fun Fun Fun is that perfect wave to surf us in to the sunset and the exit doors…..

If there are still any Beach Boys fans foolish enough to dismiss this band youre only denying yourself a superb night in the company of genuine legends. The Beach Boys are as good a party band as AC DC and should be missed at your peril.


Surfin – on tape to introduce the band then continued live.
Catch A Wave
Little Honda
Do It Again
Surf City
Surfin’ Safari
Surfer Girl
Getcha Back
Good To My Baby
Bluebirds Over The Mountain
I’m So Young
Why Do Fools Fall In Love
Ballad of Ol’ Betsy
Don’t Worry Baby
Little Deuce Coupe
Shut Down
I Get Around
Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring
In My Room
Cool Head Warm Heart
God Only Knows
Good Vibrations
Sail On Sailor
Sloop John B
Then I Kissed Her
California Girls
Wouldn’t It Be Nice
Help Me Rhonda
Do You Wanna Dance
Barbara Ann
Sufin’ USA

Fun Fun Fun.

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