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Arts & Music

Beach Boys take Straz audience on a surfin' safari

Special correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 05:18 AM
TAMPA -

There were gray heads on stage and gray heads in the packed concert hall and everyone was swaying to that California surfin' beat that has been the soundtrack of a lot of people's lives for more than 50 years.

At the sold-out Beach Boys 50th Anniversary performance Saturday night in the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, nostalgia ran deep. The surviving members of this legendary band took the crowd on a surfin' safari through more than 40 songs.

Included was a new one "That's Why God Made the Radio," a sentimental tribute to days when radio really meant something – it connected teens to music.

On a 66-date world tour to promote their new album, the "boys," old guys way past retirement age, shared a lotta love with the audience at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. The merchandise vendor was slammed with fans gobbling up those 50th anniversary tour T-shirts.

The crowd loved everything but really came to life for the group's biggest hits such as "California Girls," "Little Deuce Coup," "Surfin' U.S.A," "Be True to Your School," "Help Me Rhonda" and others.

Backed up by 10 younger musicians, three original founding members Brian Wilson, 69, Mike Love, 71, Al Jardine, 70, were joined by two longtime "Boys" – guitarist/songwriter David Marks, 63, who has been with the group off and on since the 1960s; and Bruce Johnston, 69, who has been a member since "California Girls" in 1964.

The musicians filled the stage. A wide screen behind them recalled drive-in movies. A montage of early Beach Boy photos alternated with surfing videos and psychedelic animation.

The "God Made the Radio" album (the group's 29th album), coming in June, features 11 new songs. The group will be promoting it with numerous TV appearances including Jimmy Fallon's "Late Night" on NBC Monday.

The group paid tribute to two original band members who passed away, Carl and Dennis Wilson, by singing backup to videos of them performing "God Only Knows" and "Forever." Dennis drowned in the ocean at age 39 after a day of drinking. Carl died in 1998 from cancer.

Brian Wilson, who has been plagued with health problems, has not toured with the band in 40 years. He sat at a piano to the left of the stage and at times appeared to be not totally involved. But he sparked up on some songs such as "Sail on, Sailor," "You're So Good To Me," "Please Let Me Wonder" and "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times."

Every longtime member got a turn at lead vocals but Love carried most of the songs. The first half of the concert included the fun in the sun days of surf songs and teen love. The second half took in there later songs, including the 1988 melodic beach ballad "Kokomo," which Johnston said was "discovered" in Tampa.

He said airplay on Q105 here lead to the national exposure that made it a hit. Their encore set became a sing-a-long as the audience joined in on "Good Vibrations" and "Fun, Fun, Fun."

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