It was always going to be difficult to avoid the pitfall of appearing like a tribute band rather than the real thing, with just one of the original line up being present: Mike Love. However, the almost full King’s Dock greeted the opener ‘California Girls’ with such enthusiasm, you would have thought it was a new song. The number of closed eyes suggests that the song was timeless and still had the ability to lose the audience and send them to a happier place. On the other hand, the reason might have been that people had to censor their pupils from the sight of one of the most influential and vibrant bands, being reduced to withered site like that off gazing into the Tortoise enclosure at the zoo before their eyes.
The banter was flowing faster than a wave in Santa Cruz as Mike introduced fellow veteran Bruce Johnstone, reminding the crowd that he has a Grammy (for Barry Manilow’s ‘I Wrote The Songs’). Just as the event was in danger of turning into an after dinner speech, with Mike having spoken on topics like modern cars and having done an impromptu Backstreet Boys Tribute, the opening notes of the nostalgic ‘Little Deuce Coupe’ had the crowd gliding back to the ‘good ole days’ and did sound almost as good as on record. Mike Love cut a sad figure on stage at times merely shaking his tambourine and straining to manage the odd shimmy, as a lot of the songs early on in the set were sung predominantly by keyboard player Tim Bonhomme.
A cover of the Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers classic ‘Why Do Fools Fall in Love’ with a cappella introduction, served to demonstrate that the sincerity and soothing nature of their voices was as prevalent today in the Beach Boys hey day. The moments of quality were few and far between as the classics like “Good Vibrations’, ’Barbara Ann’ and ‘Sloop John B’ were blurted out almost as though it was a local karaoke night. However, the simple and romantic ode to love ‘God Only Knows’ stirred the crowd and had everyone up off their seat like it was the end of an opera. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that putting ‘Surfing USA’ towards the end would send people home happy, longing for the next time…..perhaps?