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The Beach Boys Still Rocking the House with a Timeless Performance
June 9, 2013
Santa Barbara, California

The Beach Boys rocked the house during a marathon sold-out set at the Chumash Casino Resort’s Samala Showroom in Santa Ynez, featuring no less than 31 of their biggest hit songs.

The show featured the band in its latest incarnation, which has changed since its 50th anniversary tour last year. Last summer’s tour made a stop at the Santa Barbara and Hollywood bowls. That concert brought original members Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and David Marks back into the fold. The lineup made for a sensational nostalgic concert tour.

To be perfectly honest, however, if you closed your eyes you couldn’t hear a bit of difference in the harmonies exhibited between that show last summer and the current touring lineup of The Beach Boys. With tickets on this tour costing a fraction of the much-hyped reunion tour, it was no surprise that the intimate 1,440-seat venue sold out quickly for the concert.

As always, lead singer Mike Love led the band through a festive evening of hit songs, with the wit and humor of a veteran rock star.

It sure is more comfortable here than at the Ventura Showgrounds,” he quipped.

Longtime Beach Boys veteran keyboardist and vocalist Bruce Johnston added, “This has to be one of the most beautiful places in the country.”

Love and Johnston both live in Santa Barbara, as does Love’s son, Christian, who performs with the band as rhythm guitarist and vocalist. In fact, except for keyboardist Tim Bonhomme, who has played with the band as far back as 1993, every other member of the seven-piece band took over lead vocals during some point in the night, and all contributed to the extraordinary harmonies that have made The Beach Boys sound so unique.

Veteran bass player Randell Kirsch, who has played with the group for nearly a decade, laid down a modern thumping bass line to the well known tracks, as well as offering up some crisp clean vocals. Lead guitarist and vocalist Scott Totten, who has been the band’s musical director since 2000, played ear-splitting guitar jams and took several turns as lead singer. Veteran drummer John Cowsill, who has also been with the band since 2000, played thundering drums and also took a turn as lead vocalist. If the name rings a bell, yes he was one of those Cowsills — the band that inspired The Partridge Family television show.

The Cowsills were sort of the anglo version of the Jackson 5 in the 1960s and experienced huge commercial success, before mismanagement by their father manager and drug use led to their downward spiral into obscurity. There was a great documentary film, Family Band: The Cowsills Story, about the group at the 2012 Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Cowsill joined his brother, Bob, at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club after the film in an impromptu concert featuring many of The Cowsills classics. Looking a bit like a lost Ramone, Cowsill showcased his immense talent as a drummer, playing an explosive back beat reminiscent of an obsessive Keith Moon throughout the night. Together with Totten on lead guitar and Kirsch on bass, the trio laid down an ear-shattering modern rock rhythm, as a back drop to the band’s classic songs.

Both the senior Love and Johnston cleverly bantered with the crowd all during the evening, making jokes about their senior years as rockers, but as the evening progressed they just became more animated and energetic, as musical legends full of unbounded energy. Halfway thorough the show, the front of the stage opened for danced-crazed fans to rush to the front in an orgy of exhilaration. Dancing Beach Boys fans separated in age by no less than seven decades swarmed the front of the stage in a euphoric dancing mass.

The second half of the show featured many of the more up-beat rock ‘n’ roll classics of the band. As the volume grew noticeably louder on the stellar, in-house sound system, the band turned almost into jam band territory, stringing together a whole segment of rock classics in a medley and sparking an ever-growing infectious dance fever. By the time the final encore blasted through the showroom, nearly two hours into the concert, no member of the crowd no matter how senior could be seen sitting in their seat. “Fun Fun Fun” seemed to be the fitting finale as concert goers from 8 to 80 stood beaming, clapping and dancing in a timeless celebration of the iconic sounds of The Beach Boys.

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