I JUST WASN’T MADE FOR THESE TIMES
Conventional wisdom dictates that reviews should never be personal but instead should be utterly objective. Well, one of the perks of owning and editing your own webzine is that you can totally ignore these ‘rules’! So before I get into the review proper of The Beach Boys concert in Singapore at the Indoor Stadium, I need to share with you some background information.
I only became a massive Beach Boys fan in the early 90s after good friend Eric Khoo lent me his entire Beach Boys collection and I’ve been hooked ever since! The 90s were also significant in that I became enamored of the US power-pop underground scene, and for that reason Power of Pop was birthed. By a twist of fate, at the end of the 90s, Brian Wilson would embark on a active solo career which saw him work with power-pop luminaries like Wondermints (Darian Sahanaja, Nick Walusko & Mike D’Amico), Jeffrey Foskett, Scott Bennett and Probyn Gregory.
And thus, 13 years later this confluence of events (including the introduction of singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Nelson Bragg to the Brian Wilson band), would lead to probably the most memorable musical experience of my life thus far! But I am getting ahead of myself. When I first heard that The Beach Boys were coming to Singapore, besides being excited at the concert itself, I became aware of the fact that I would have the opportunity to meet my power-pop heroes of the 90s/00s like Sahanaja and Foskett. In addition, coincidentally enough, Bragg had sent me his sophomore effort We Get What We Want (ironically enough, as subsequent events proved!) which I adored and reviewed in TODAY.
To cut a long story short, when the Beach Boys arrived in Singapore, I got in touch with Bragg and we met up (together with Sahanaja) to chat about music and especially our mutual love of the Beach Boys. Bragg promised to secure for me a backstage pass and to be honest, that night’s meeting was already a dream come true and I would have been satisfied if that was the extent of it…
Onto the show proper and Bragg had delivered as promised – a ‘VIP sticker’ which I duly attached to my polo t-shirt. I found my seat at the Indoor Stadium, sat down and saw Bragg walking around on the floor looking for someone, presumably… me. Bragg immediately brought me to the side of the stage, along with Caleb Lye (Another Sunday Afternoon), whereupon we came upon BRIAN WILSON himself! A quick photo opportunity came and went, whilst I stood in the wings and introduced myself to Probyn Gregory and then, Mike Love, Al Jardine, David Marks, Bruce Johnston as they made their way to the stage (!). Totally surreal!!!
Then the lights went down and the night exploded with “Do It Again” and from then on it was a roller coaster ride as the Beach Boys delivered 50 songs for its 50th Anniversary show. The first half of the set began with the early surf and car themed hits – including “Catch A Wave”, “Don’t Back Down” & “Surfin’ Safari” before slowing the pace slightly with “Surfer Girl”, “Wendy” and an unexpected “This Whole World”. There was a wonderful segment as the band explored the diversity of its repertoire – from the doo wop cover of “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” to the harpsicord-driven “When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)” to the R&B-fuelled “Darlin’” (featuring brilliant vocals from Sahanaja) and the highlight of Johnston’s “Disney Girls” which literally left me in tears. That first half was closed with a blast as “Don’t Worry Baby”, “Little Deuice Coupe”, “409″, “Shut Down” and “I Get Around” got the crowd rocking!
After the short break, David Marks – together with the backing band – pulled off the instrumental “Pet Sounds” before the Boys gathered around Brian Wilson to sing “Add Some Music”. From then on, it was an excellent delivery of the band’s more sophisticated material including ”Heroes and Villains”, “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times”, “Sloop John B”, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, “God Only Knows” and “Good Vibrations”. However, as we entered into the final stretch, the concert was converted into a rock n’ roll party as humongous hits like “California Girls”, “Help Me Rhonda”, “Do You Wanna Dance” and “Surfin’ USA” brought the house down!!!
Ironically enough, the inevitable encore featured two relatively weaker tracks (“Kokomo” and “Barbara Ann”) before the Beach Boys brought down the curtain with a propulsive “Fun, Fun, Fun” and that as they say, was that! Without a doubt, the 2500-strong audience certainly got their money’s worth with an almost 3 hour set, reminiscent of Elton John’s last gig in Singapore. A truly amazing concert – it had almost everything for everyone and it was pretty difficult to argue with a 50 song set, even if the band did not play my favourite Beach Boys song – “The Little Girl I Once Knew” but that omission can be easily forgiven! An unforgettable night of awesomely classic pop music!!!!
I want to take this opportunity to thank Nelson Bragg for going out of his way to make The Beach Boys experience such a gratifying one for me. Thanks also to Lushington Entertainment for making this review possible.
More photos of the Beach Boys concert here.