“I hope you’ll bear with us because we intend to do around two hours of music tonight,” Mike Love of the Beach Boys told the sold-out crowd at Proctors on Tuesday night.
From the opening number of “Surfin’ Safari,” which kicked in as a swollen ocean wave crested on the video screen behind the stage, to the closer of “Fun, Fun, Fun” as fireworks exploded overhead on the screen, the Beach Boys kept the packed house plenty entertained — over two sets filled with nearly 30 songs covering highlights from the Beach Boys ‘60s heyday.
The crowd, skewed to the demographic that came of age when the Beach Boys first capitalized on the ‘60s mythos of southern California as a place of sun, surf, T-birds and teenage dreams, stayed largely seated for the show’s first half, which covered sunny surfing hits like “Catch a Wave,” “Surfin’ U.S.A.” and “Surfer Girl” as well as a harmony-laden cover of Frankie Lymon’s “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” and a beautiful version of “Don’t Worry Baby.”
For “Surfer Girl,” Love dedicated the song to all the “ladies in attendance” and encouraged the crowd members to hold their cell phone flashlights aloft during the touchingly romantic tune (reported to be the first song that Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson ever wrote).
Of course, Wilson, long viewed as the erratic genius behind the band, who took them from teeny-bopper to transcendent, tours and performs these days with his own group that includes original Beach Boy Al Jardine. (Wilson brought his well-received Pet Sounds 50th Anniversary World Tour to the Palace Theatre in Albany last April.)
This was the Mike Love version of the Beach Boys (Love retains the sole license to the name).
Including Love, the eight-member crew onstage included two later Beach Boys (keyboardist Bruce Johnston, who joined in 1965, and guitarist Jeffrey Foskett, who joined in 1972) as well as younger hired guns like lead guitarist Scott Totten, vocalist Brian Eichenberger and fast-hitting drummer John Cowsill (of The Cowsills).
The tour was billed as the 2017 “Wild Honey Tour,” in honor of the 50th anniversary of the band’s 1967 soul-inspired “Wild Honey” album, misunderstood and somewhat maligned in its day but later appreciated for delicate, sweet tracks like “Aren’t You Glad” and “Darlin’,” played here in reverent versions.
The 76-year-old Love also used the gig to promote his new solo record, “Unleash the Love,” set for release on Friday, by playing “Getcha Back” and the title track, an R&B-tinged, somewhat sappy number about universal love.
The second set finally got people up and moving, as it was impossible not to stand and sway along to rollicking versions of “I Get Around,” “Sloop John B,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “Help Me, Rhonda,” “Barbara Ann” and “Good Vibrations.”
“The Warmth of the Sun” was a less expected setlist inclusion of a mystical, melancholy song written in 1963 around the time of the John F. Kennedy assassination by Love and his cousin Brian Wilson. The group played homage to original Beach Boy Carl Wilson, who died in 1998, during “God Only Knows,” and drummer John Cowsill sang lead on an encore of the raw and soulful “Wild Honey.”
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