The Happy Together Tour that sold out the Keswick Theatre on Wednesday was stuck - gleefully - in the American flower-power 1960s. Flo & Eddie of the Turtles (whose 1967 hit lent the show its name), the Buckinghams, the Association, the Grass Roots, the Cowsills, and Mark Lindsay (from Paul Revere and the Raiders) rippled through sunshiny harmonies, dewy rhythms, and lilting melodies.
But beneath those lovely surfaces were depths of darker loveliness. The bubblegum psychedelia of the Summer of Love was but the prettier harmonic sister of weightier, inward-looking '60s jams from Dylan and Hendrix. This was the rainbow tonality of optimism and unity, not rancor and protest. Each song was elegantly executed, every high note hit, without a hint of creakiness. Not a single act was a one-hit wonder; each tight set was packed with tunes familiar to 1960s AM-radio fanatics.
Between tunes, Buckinghams originals Carl Giammarese and Nick Fortuna reminisced about Edwardian suits and mop-tops. On hits such as "Kind of a Drag," they riffed through epic chord changes and Californian beachy harmonies - and, being Italian guys from Chicago, they had that swagger.
The showstoppers were brothers-sister act the Cowsills - inspiration for TV's Partridge Family. Cowsill siblings Susan, Paul, and Bob leapt into the fluffy chamber pop of "The Rain, the Park and the Other Things" and the tangy theme to television's Love, American Style with weird, jittery panache. Best act all evening.
The Grass Roots were great - Motown-inflected rock with a tribal, thumping edge, but they lost points for not having original members performing the charge of "Midnight Confessions" and other tunes. Lindsay was solidly soul-rocking on rousing hits such as "Kicks."
Along with the Cowsills, best of show were the Association and the Turtles. Dapper in white suits, sounding angelic, original Association members Jim Yester, Jules Alexander, and Del Ramos let loose with soft, high three-part harmonies on "Never My Love" (still radically sophisticated) "Windy," and "Cherish." The Turtles' Flo & Eddie - legendary goofballs - dressed like chickens, wordlessly harmonized through Frank Zappa's "Peaches En Regalia" (the duo belonged to the Mothers of Invention for a time), and crafted complex harmonic structures for Turtles smashes such as "Elenore" and "Happy Together," the night's dreamy theme song.