CONCERT REVIEW: Beach Boys ‘Do It Again’ with seamless summertime set at Bethel Woods
While sitting backstage at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in New York on Friday, July 15 and chatting with Bruce Johnston, the legendary keyboardist/bassist for The Beach Boys, he gets a tap on his shoulder from a stagehand who says to him, “10 minutes ‘til show time, Bruce.” Bruce says to my wife and I, “OK, guys time go.” He walked about three steps away from us, stopped, and turned to us to add, “So, did you ever hear the one about the…” and proceeded to tell us joke after hilarious joke. Right then, I knew we were in for a night of “Good Vibrations.”
The Temptations kicked the night off with hits from their Motown catalog, such as “Just My Imagination,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” and their biggest single, “My Girl,” setting the tone for a great show at a great venue, located right on the hallowed grounds of Woodstock.
Just after 9 p.m., as the sun was setting on the mountain behind the amphitheater, the lights went down, and it was time to listen to the songs of summer for the next two hours. They opened the concert with the mega hit “Surfin’ Safari” and continued right into “Catch a Wave,” “Hawaii,” and “Do It Again.” The energy The Beach Boys still continue to produce at their live performances is more than impressive; it was hit after hit after hit with minimal breaks between songs.
Beach Boys frontman Mike Love had the crowd in the palm of his hand from the get-go. Before playing their first ballad, “Surfer Girl,” he instructed everyone to get out their cell phones and turn on the flashlight feature so they could wave their lights high throughout the song. He even brought his daughter, Ambha Love, out to sing the classic song “Sail On, Sailor.” She did an absolutely amazing job and seemed like she belonged up on the stage from the first note she hit.
Guitarist/vocalist Jeffrey Foskett also sang beautifully on classics such as “Don’t Worry Baby” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” which are always crowd favorites. The harmonies that Love, Johnston, and Foskett – along with guitarist Scott Totten, bassist Brian Eichenberger, drummer John Cowsill, and keyboardist Tim Bonhomme – produce sound just as fresh and crisp as they did in the 1960s, with every song performed in its original key.
The Boys also played powerful tributes to the late Carl and Dennis Wilson using pre-recorded vocal tracks for Carl with “God Only Knows” and with Dennis on “Do You Wanna Dance.” Mike Love also did a heartfelt tribute to his late friend and Beatles member George Harrison on his solo tune “Pisces Brothers.”
Accompanied by great videos that rolled on a big screen behind them throughout the night paired with hit after hit, featuring a block of songs from one of the most influential albums of all time, “Pet Sounds” (which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary), it’s safe to say that The Beach Boys never disappoint.
As the powerful 35-song set came to an end, they closed the show with timeless fan-favorite classics “Kokomo,” “Good Vibrations,” “Barbara Ann” and, lastly, a fitting song to sum up the night – “Fun, Fun, Fun.”
Photo by Kevin Ferguson