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Concert Review by Nick Morgan

CONCERT REVIEW: THE BEACH BOYS - Sheperds Bush Empire, London
Sunday November 14th -
by peta-deluxe guest writer Nick Morgan

God only knows what I’m doing here. I’m in the Gents dressed in a Hawaiian shirt amiably talking prostates with a total stranger. In the hallway outside the bouncers are so bored they’re fighting amongst themselves. Downstairs the St John’s Ambulance Brigade are doing a brisk trade in oxygen masks and fibrillators. On the stage the Beach Boys (or at least two of them), Mike Love (who looked as though he had forgotten to take off his bedroom slippers) and Bruce Johnston (not an original BB – but he joined the band when Brian Wilson gave up touring in the mid 1960s), with what turn out to be a band of highly accomplished musicians and vocalists, are churning out a tidal wave of surfin’ hits.
In case you’ve forgotten the Beach Boys is a story of Heroes and Villains. On the side of the angels is Bonkers Brian Wilson, the singing studio wizard who famously wrote the tunes in his room, and then lost it all somewhere between the Beatles’ Revolver and Sgt Pepper. Turning to a cask strength cocktail of narcotics he became one of the most publicised of all rock recluses until his return in recent years with a string of what were at first almost embarrassing concerts, and latterly with his release of the lionised Smile – or at least some of the songs from Smile – the great lost album of 1960’s rock.

Much loved, I note, by the same folks who lavish praise and adoration on the morbidified mediocrity of the likes of Nick Drake. In the red corner with D-evil are the rest of the boys; well not Dennis or Carl (deceased), or Al Jardine (fell out with Mike and Bruce), but what’s left of year’s of family-fall outs, feuds, and litigation.
One of the problems the Beach Boys faced at the end of the sixties was that they already seemed to be an anachronism.
As they play thirty years on the absolute irrelevance of their songs to the modern world shines through more strongly than a surf-swept sunrise. ‘Surfin USA’ ? Well not any more – unless you’ve had an eye and fingerprint scan at Immigration, taken your boots off to get through security, and never had a hit single called ‘Mathew and Son’. For better or worse the world has moved on – but Mike and Bruce (and for that matter the absent Brian) seem to be in blissful ignorance of this – trapped in a dollar wrapped time-capsule - milking their musical heritage to its last penny.
Yet even in a half-empty Shepherds Bush Empire it seems that most of the audience (or at least those that are still breathing) want to be back in the sixties too – and don’t seem too unhappy at having paid £35 each for the privilege. As for me – well wouldn’t it be nice to get home and listen to Nick Cave…- Nick Morgan (photos by Kate)

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