Review By DAN MACINTOSH
CERRITOS, CA – It’s understandable if diehard Beach Boys fans entered the posh Cerritos Center for the Performing arts a little skeptical. This was not even close to the Beach Boys as most serious fans remember them, with only cheerleader/front man Mike Love onboard from the act’s original lineup.
Without Brian Wilson, the band’s resident genius/living legend onstage, it appeared to promise – at least on paper – a substandard evening of music. However, these players, which included original Cowsill John Cowsill on drums (and some vocals) and guitarist/vocalist Jeffrey Foskett handling many of Carl Wilson’s higher register singing, gave the audience an enthusiastic and skilled overview of the Beach Boys’ storied career.
Better still, the setlist was not just peppy surfing and car songs, even though the night began with “Surfin’ Safari” and also included “Little Deuce Coupe” and “409” back to back. There was a soulful performance of “Darlin’,” the empathetic “Don’t Worry Baby,” as well as “God Only Knows” plus “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” each taken from Pet Sounds. And rather than even attempt to approximate Carl Wilson’s signature vocals on “God Only Knows,” the band played to a video of the bearded Beach Boy singing the song, taken from a vintage group performance in England.
One would be remiss not to mention the presence of actor John Stamos, who played guitar, drums and even reprised his version of Dennis Wilson’s “Forever” during the show. But instead of becoming a celebrity distraction, Stamos appeared to energize Love and transform this performance into something a little more special than just another tour stop. Stamos is from nearby Cypress, which made this hometown gig, of sorts, doubly special.
In addition to fine sideman filling out the lineup, longtime Beach Boy Bruce Johnston played keyboards and added vocal harmonies tonight. He also sang his lovely “Disney Girls.” Even Cowsill was given a lead vocal on “Wild Honey.”
Before disappearing briefly before the encore, the group rocked the house with “Good Vibrations.” Upon return, they sang Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” (at Stamos’ request), then closed with “Barbara Ann” and “Fun, Fun, Fun.”
Yes, the audience had fun, fun, fun tonight. But with the setlist’s eclectic mix, matched with many wonderful accompanying videos drawn from throughout the Beach Boy’s noteworthy career, this surprisingly good lineup gave the crowd a worthy representation of why this band is one of America’s greatest.