The Beach Boys in Concert at the Rose Music Center at The Heights
Huber Heights, OH
July 19, 2021
By David Beard
You could say that writing a review of a concert performance by Mike Love, Bruce Johnston, and The Beach Boys’ band is superfluous. Even so, the one daunting element in the pursuit of sharing an experience lies within describing the intention behind the event. In the case of this show, Mike intended – as he does in every performance – to make the night memorable for concert attendees.
For starters, it was great to catch everyone in just their second show of the upcoming sixty-eight (and climbing) date Feel Flows tour. Everyone was ‘up,’ and in great spirits, and the soundcheck included a pleasant surprise when they worked on “It’s About Time” and “Add Some Music To Your Day” from Sunflower, and “Feel Flows” from Surf’s Up, which is also the name of the new crown jewel collection set for release on August 27 by Universal.
Mike could very easily just do the hit records; God knows they have plenty. Instead, he gathered the band together in Nashville before the tour to rehearse deep catalogue material like “It’s About Time,” “Add Some Music To Your Day,” “Feel Flows,” and others.
I asked music director Scott Totten about the addition of the new material, and he said, “Mike and I discussed which songs off the Feel Flows box set we’d like to try. He chose a few and I chose a few. The band met in Nashville on July 15 and 16 and rehearsed at SIR [Studio Instrument Rentals]. In all, we rehearsed seven to eight songs. We will continue to run them at soundchecks and add them to the shows and see which ones go over best with the audiences.”
I’ve grown accustomed to seeing Mike work hard on picking the right setlist … I’ve watched him do it for years, and it’s still cool. And this is more than just some nostalgia show. Much more.
It’s a common misconception that Mike just wants to perform the ‘same songs;’ that’s never been the case. He performs the group’s most noted recordings because that’s what fans pay to see. But when he works with Scott before each (and every) show, they carefully sprinkle in rarities and chestnuts. And when you look at setlists through the years you can see those tweaks and his appreciation for all things as they relate to The Beach Boys’ catalogue and his cousin Brian Wilson’s beautiful compositions and unparalleled vocal arrangements. Mike is Brian’s biggest fan, so it’s hard for Mike not to want to perform those iconic hit songs that defined an era, songs fans come to see performed.
So, for the first set the band performed all the great sunshine pop surfing, dancing, girls, and cars songs. Everything you’d come to expect, but with so much youthful and rock vigor that has Love looking closer to fifty-five than eighty. He’s still very young at heart.
For this show there was something fresh and energetic present the entire evening, and the audience had a lot to do with it. In many regards, I felt as though I was attending something far more important than just a Beach Boys’ show … this was magic. The air crackled with joy as the crowd hardly sat down. I think they were so glad to be out and about again that the tightness and execution of the band lifted the experience to another level.
With most of the nation having been shut down for over a year, this is exactly what we need: good time music that takes us to the past and creates memories in the present. The smiles throughout the crowd were infectious, and the band were in true ‘concert’ with them.
Mike and the troops answered the call. Remarkably, this performance was memorable because – nearly sixty years later – Mike Love still believes in the power of music and its ability to enhance your mood and perspective on the world. Because when you leave a Beach Boys concert, you’re happy.
Great music, fantastic performance, and the intention of making people happy is what Mike Love, Bruce Johnston, and The Beach Boys’ band are all about … this summer, go see them. And take someone with you that hasn’t been to see them in a very long time, or ever. You’ll be glad you did. And so will they.
©2021 David M Beard/All Rights Reserved