It was a crisp 60 degrees out when the Beach Boys brought their sunny surf rock songs to the Hard Rock Live this past Saturday night. Though it didn’t exactly feel like beach weather, it wasn't hard to imagine rocking out on the hot South Florida sand.
Beach Boys cofounder and lead frontman Mike Love brought an incredible group of talented musicians on the 2016 tour, including Beach Boys member Bruce Johnston, Scott Totten (musical director/guitar/vocals), Jeffrey Foskett (guitar/vocals), Brian Eichenburger (bass/vocals), Tim Bonhomme (keyboards/vocals), John Cowsill (percussion/vocals) and eventually, part-time Beach Boy and Full House star, John Stamos.
The Beach Boys opened up the night with the first hit they ever pressed, 1961's “Surfin'." The stage lit up with bright neon lights and a large screen behind them projected videos of surfers, beach babes, and old clips from some of the group's most iconic performances. The crowd — made up mostly of die-hard fans who — were revved up for the enduring 60's pop icons, but they got treated to a special surprise when actor and part-time musician John Stamos came out and joined the lineup. I watched audience members’ jaws drop at the sight of the celebrity playing guitar next to Mike Love. For the rest of the evening, Stamos jumped from playing guitar to singing vocals and hitting the drums for various songs.
Love introduced Stamos saying, “When he’s not on the hit show Fuller House [the new Netflix series], he’s with us as a part-time Beach Boy.” Stamos and Love bantered back and forth between songs. Before “Be True to Your School,” Stamos said he was just born when that song came out. Their friendly chemistry made the show feel more like you had just walked into a loving reunion of friends and family members rather than just a concert.
Stamos dedicated “Little Surfer Girl” to all the ladies in the audience — and a couple of guys, too — as he played the drums. Love encouraged the audience to light up their phones, and the stands promptly twinkled with screens.
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Beach Boys played a cover of “So Young” by the Students in honor of their doo-wop roots. Brian Eichenburger did a perfect job as lead vocalist on that song, and the tune moved one elderly couple to get out of their seats and slow dance in the aisles.
The audience kept mostly tame until Beach Boys pulled out “I Get Around,” which finally made everyone jump to their feet. Love then quickly encouraged the “rowdy” crowd to sit back down in their seats for the next slow song, “The Ballad of Old Betsy,” which Love said was for anyone who had ever been in love with a car, showing off the 1949 Chevy and Corvette he'd had an affair with.
Of course, concertgoers jumped right back up out of their seats for “California Girls.” One lucky woman in the front row got a smooch from Stamos — a steamy moment promptly followed up with “Then I Kissed Her.”
Bruce Johnston played a beautiful rendition of his original song, “Disney Girls,” then Stamos performed the ballad, “Forever,” a callback to the time he recorded the tune with the Beach Boys for Full House back in 1992. For every 90s child in the audience, the song brought us back to that sweet moment when Jesse sang the love song to Rebecca at their wedding.
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Love continued to intersperse the hits with meaningful and treasured performances, like “Warmth of the Sun,” written on the night of the assassination of President Kennedy and recorded two weeks later. The Beach Boys also made a special tribute to Carl Wilson, who passed away of cancer in 1998 with “God Only Knows.” They played Wilson’s voice for the song and showed a live recording on the screen while the band sang backup vocals and instruments. It was the perfect song to play in memory of their brother and bandmate, making us feel like he was still with us for the concert.
The tributes continued as Love talked about his good friend, George Harrison, whom he spent a lot of time with before he died of lung cancer. Love shared a memory of spending his birthday with Harrison in India and then played his original song, “Pisces Brothers.”
The Beach Boys segued from their tributes and love ballads into a string of their greatest hits, including “Good Vibrations,” “Do You Wanna Dance?,” “Help Me Rhonda,” “Barbara Ann,” “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “Surfin' U.S.A,” and finally, “Kokomo” for the encore.
From the “fun, fun, fun” music, to the touching tributes and Stamos smooching a lady in the front row, Beach Boys delivered an incredible evening. And yes, Stamos did run his fingers through his hair at the end, just to give it a nice comb. Have Mercy!