By Jeff McEvoy
On a breezy, sunny afternoon in Miami, Mike Love and Bruce Johnston of The Beach Boys welcomed a couple of thousand people to enjoy a weekend of fun-filled music on The Beach Boys Good Vibrations Cruise as they kicked off their 2022 Sixty Years Of The Sounds Of Summer Tour. Mike acknowledged that there would be some surprises to the setlist and the die-hard fans cheered at the announcement. Everyone raised their glass to what was to become a memorable weekend for many.
Friday night saw the Temptations performing all their solid Motown hits. They did not disappoint as their vocals rang true to the original recordings from the early ’60s. Otis Williams, the only original founding member left, wowed the crowd with his dance moves, mimicking the choreography that made the Temptations famous. The stage was then cleared for the main act. Andrew Lewand, along with his wife Karen, is a first-time cruiser and an avid Beach Boys fan. “As soon as I heard about the cruise, it was a no-brainer,” he told me. Along with fellow Rochester, New Yorker Marie Soderholm, and her husband Gordie, Andrew and Karen waited patiently upfront for hours to see The Beach Boys perform. They would not be disappointed.
The beat of the drums laid a heavy bass as John Cowsill pounded out the intro to “Do It Again.” Over 1,500 people were on their feet as The Beach Boys hit the stage. What they didn’t expect was Mark McGrath! McGrath, of Sugar Ray fame, is a huge fan of the Boys, as many of us are. He was asked years ago to do a re-take of this song with Mike Love, and they started off the weekend with this song with a surge of energy that left you feeling like “I can’t wait to see what the rest of the weekend brings!” McGrath bounced around on stage whooping and hollering, bringing the crowd to an energy level that is normally seen at a sporting event. “I didn’t know what to expect with Mark McGrath, but his energy was spellbinding,” said Marie. They sailed through the rest of the show performing all the hits. McGrath did justice to his song, “I Just Wanna Fly,” with The Beach Boys band doing a stellar job backing him. Before he left the stage, McGrath commented how he’s a huge Beach Boys fan and asked if John Cowsill would sing “Darlin’.” Mike said, “It’s not on tonight’s setlist but let’s give it a try.” Which they broke into flawlessly.
“We are very excited to kick off the 60th Anniversary tour on Norwegian Cruise Lines. What better way to spread the love of music than with the Temptations and Micky Dolenz? We are also adding a few surprise songs to the (2022) setlist, so be sure to check it out.” — Mike Love
Day two saw a photo op with Mike and Bruce that lasted for nearly two hours! Everyone on board was given a time slot to show up for an autographed photo with the pair. The line snaked through many tables and chairs and even two floors down. People from across the country had an opportunity to thank them for the music and for this wonderful cruise. When that finished, Scott Totten and Mike ‘Swifty’ Swift took on a question-and-answer session in the Stardust Lounge.
As Music Director, Scott gave a detailed presentation on how he goes about selecting songs and handing out the vocal harmonies for each band member. He also gave many accolades to Brian Wilson; on how Brian layered the vocals and how he laid down the instrumentation. Swifty described his role as a production manager, engaging his humor into the life of preparing a concert. He added, “While you may see a happy face on the outside, there is a LOT of stuff going on behind me.” Swifty also described his role as Front of House sound technician and how he and Scott have to interact to get the right sound for the band.
An hour after that presentation, Mike Love and James Hirsch had a Q&A with many cruise attendees about his book My Life as a Beach Boy. Mike went into detail about how things started in the early days and how they developed into today. The evening ended with Micky Dolenz celebrating the music of The Monkees. Micky was in fine voice. Along with his sister Coco, the two paid homage to Micky’s departed bandmates Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork, and Davy Jones. Dolenz added historical banter between songs, paying respect to Boyce/Hart, Goffin/King, and Neil Diamond. He ended his show with a thunderous performance of “I’m a Believer.”
“I was a huge fan of The Beach Boys, so I was looking forward to seeing them. The energy and excitement of the fans was just incredible, and I appreciated the response to the new show paying tribute to my friends.” — Micky Dolenz
While we waited for The Beach Boys, there were many other acts to watch. Joe Piscopo brought a comedy routine along with songs, singing Sinatra and Neil Diamond among many others. The all-girl instrumental group, The Surfrajettes, rocked their instruments handling many surf classics! The Beatles tribute band, A Hard Day’s Night, performed the hits of The Beatles, and Yacht Rock Revue was a fan favorite performing classic mellow ’70s and ’80s songs to perfection. If you wanted to hear music, this was the trip!
The final day of the cruise arrived, and Mike and Jackie were able to spend some quality time with their children while others disembarked the ship to explore Nassau, Bahamas. That afternoon saw Mike passing out drinks and signing autographs on the pool deck. Once they finally handed out their last drink, Mike and Bruce headed back to the stage for more Q&A. Fans lined up at a microphone and asked questions such as, “What is your favorite song to perform?” Mike replied, “My favorite song is whatever I’m feeling that night, but they’re all my favorite.” Mike also acknowledged Bruce with his Grammy for “I Write The Songs,” and Bruce later praised Brian and Mike for the beautiful song “The Warmth of the Sun.” After a three-hour break, The Beach Boys were back on the main stage, and they didn’t disappoint!
Prior to the concert, Jacquelyne Love announced the winners of the silent auction for Sophie’s Place, a music therapy foundation. The auction had raised $12,140 which the Love Foundation matched, bringing the total to $24,280 raised for Sophie’s Place.
Once again, the night started off with McGrath joining them for “Do it Again.” That got the crowd pumped up and ready for an almost two-hour concert. The cover of the Ramones’ classic “Rockaway Beach” had the audience jumping up and down like a whack-a-mole game … people of all ages were bouncing to the beat of “Rock, Rock, Rockaway Beach.” After a slow and steady “Surfer Girl,” complete with waving cellphone flashlights, The Beach Boys dug deep into their semi-rap song “Still Cruisin’.” This brought a rousing cheer from the die-hard fans. Mike then reached way back performing the Students classic “I’m So Young”: with a beautiful vocal blend by all. But wait, there’s more!
Brian Eichenberger did a standout version of “Farmers Daughter,” bringing screams of delight to the audience. The hits just kept on coming. Mark McGrath performed the extended version of “Fly,” once again whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Christian Love beautifully sang “God Only Knows,” paying tribute to the late Carl Wilson. He immediately followed up with a rocking vocal on “Sail on Sailor,” with a soaring guitar solo by Scotty.
Bruce crushed “Do You Wanna Dance,” paying respect to Dennis Wilson, once again having the audience dancing wherever they were. The silent auction winners were invited on stage to join in on “Barbara Ann,” accompanied by The Surfrajettes! The stage participants and audience were all up singing and dancing, and I would like to think the Captain of the Norwegian Pearl was listening and singing and dancing too! The night ended with a pounding rendition of “Fun, Fun, Fun.” Mike offered his thoughts and prayers to all in the Ukraine before taking a final bow. Many thanks to the organizers of Sixthman, the fans, musicians, and The Beach Boys for an unforgettable weekend!