Column: The Beach Boys, and the legacy Mike Love is liquidating
COLUMN BY TOM BLANTON —
As soon as I saw The Beach Boys would be playing at Pepsi Amphitheatre on Mother’s Day, I called up Mrs. Blanton and apologized early for my absence at their San Diego home on Sunday, May 12th. Then I began the long waiting process, mentally pumping myself up to see one of the bands I grew up listening to. Much to my dismay, I found out the day before the show that it had been falsely advertised, and that it wasn’t, in fact, The Beach Boys that were going to play. Legally, it was them, but it was by no means the same ‘60s surf-rock band that helped define a generation and the sound of summer waves.
It came to my attention on the 11th that only one of the five original members was going to be performing at the Pepsi Amphitheatre. Unfortunately, it was going to be Mike Love, the lead singer of the band. Apparently he owns the rights to the band’s name, and has been touring the country like a senile miser, fronting the band’s name for seemingly no other reason than to sell tickets to oblivious fans. We real fans see right past him, however. Brian Wilson IS The Beach Boys, and Al Jardine deserves to be shunned no less than him. Wilson has always been the primary songwriter of The Beach Boys, and Jardine has been there since the beginning. In summary: Love was trekking across the country with his cranberry extract and Viagra filled days-of-the-week pill box, making money off of songs that his cousin wrote under a band name his cousin is the face of. That would be like Ringo touring as “The Beatles” and everyone being peachy with it.
Had I not already gotten press passes, I would’ve boycotted Love’s show. I didn’t feel like he deserved my eyes or ears. Plus I assumed the 72 year olds voice would be heading to the sewers. But I got up on Sunday morning and decided to go. My trusty photographer and I talked our way out of paying for parking and screeched into a dirt spot about ten minutes before two, the time the show was supposed to start. Neither of us had ever been to the Amphitheatre, so we just followed the masses to get from the lot to the entrance. Had a been a superstitious man, I would’ve assumed the sun was punishing all of the events attendees for either being obliviously content about the false advertisement, or for betraying the bands sacred name by attending while knowing of Wilson’s and Jardine’s absence.
We got our press passes and wandered in. The wasp to human ratio was thin, but the place was still fairly packed. Tickets for the lawn seats were only around $20, which is what a majority of the attendees decided on. But we were journalists, damnit! We headed to the front and waited by the stage and waited. After what seemed like half an hour, a fancily dressed man finally came out on stage and teased the audience with an excited speech. He announced a raffle was going to take place before the show started. Two guitars were sold for $1200 each, with the money being donated to a local charity. The two winning auctioneers also got to go back stage and meet the band, which knocked on another ten minutes to the wait.
At long last, “The Beach Boys” took to the stage as the crowd cheered. The background musicians were a lot younger than Love, who’s only instrument was his microphone. To my delighted surprise, however, Love’s voice was as clean and pure as it had been in the ‘60s, and the band rocked away at Beach Boy ditties. Unfortunately, they had as little stage presence as the roadies sitting off to the side fanning themselves. The music sounded good, but without Wilson and Jardine, it’s simply not The Beach Boys.
I had to leave early due to the shows late start, but as I left, Love broke into a rendition of “Surfer Girl”, dedicating it to all the ladies, and mothers, in the audience. The day was too hot for a show, and the singer was too old for the music. Love’s whole rock essence had diminished with his hearing and sight. That or none of The Beach Boys had ever had that essence individually. Love needs Wilson like McCartney needed Lennon. Love, though as crooning as ever, shouldn’t be on tour without his true band mates. Solo, he’s washed up and probably radiating that old man musk. My advice to him would be to drop of the kids he’s playing with now at school and go muster The Beach Boys.