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Author Topic: My New Orleans Perspective.  (Read 6833 times)
Jon Stebbins
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« on: April 30, 2012, 10:49:40 AM »

I’m posting this after having been away from the Smiley board for a few days and being unaware of any relevant updates or comments regarding the post Arizona shows. The reason being I flew from California to New Orleans on Thursday April 26th and spent a few incredibly fun days there, seeing the Beach Boys of course, and generally immersing in the New Orleans experience, and not spending any time on a computer or my iphone. I got no sleep until last night, I’m back home and I wanted to share my thoughts without being influenced by what others thought. Moderators feel free to fold this into the New Orleans thread if you feel that’s aesthetically appropriate. I wanted to introduce this post in its own thread because I want more people to read it…simple.

I always thought the Beach Boys were over after Dennis died. Then I saw the surviving five together on the roof of Capitol Records back in 2006, and I immediately knew those five could actually be a legitimate Beach Boys again if they wanted to. It was obvious to me, the chemistry, the energy, the talent…it was enough. No Carl, No Dennis, it really sucks they died, but I could clearly see Brian, Mike, Al, Dave and Bruce have enough collective cache, magic, mojo whatever…when those five stand together they are The Beach Boys. Seeing the New Orleans concert only reminded me I was right.

I had amazing access. My friend Howie Edelson and I were provided total access thanks to Dave and Carrie Marks and we basically mingled and viewed the concert with the wives and family of the band. We were literally on stage during the show. My perspective of the show was from right behind Brian. I saw what he saw. See the photo I linked.

Backstage there were some celebs mingling with the boys and their families. Mike Campbell from Tom Petty’s band was there. Steve Zahn from HBO’s Treme was there too, as were Vicky Peterson of the Bangles and Susan Cowsill. John Stamos was everywhere, and some people like that. The mood was celebratory.

Everything was positive and fun. Everyone was happy. However, there was one little cloud hanging around that day, and it was Brian’s state. Within seconds of interacting with the entourage it was made clear to me that Brian was having an off day. He didn’t feel up to snuff. Brian is going to have these kind of days. Probably nearly half the time. Some worse than others. Some days he’s okay, fine, no problem. This day he was off, but to his credit he plowed through it. He sang lead on a quite a few things. He missed some cues, it was tough, but his voice is fine. No auto-tune, none, he does not need it, he can sing just fine. His contributions to the overall performance, even on a bad day, are more than they were in 1979 when he sat and smoked and barely sang. Now he’s part of the show, really. What I noticed was how much the others encouraged him. Al was just so dang kind, and enthusiastic toward Brian…constantly making eye contact with him and smiling at him and just projecting happy energy towards his old friend all through the concert.

Al is having a great time. He’s a BETTER performer now than he was in say 1977. He just killed it on “Cottonfields”, and overall he was huge.

Mike was great. He had so much fun. He was moving more than I expected. Voice is a little thin, but damn what A great front man for a 70 yr old. He was huge too.

Dave just controls the guitar sounds from beginning to end. He makes every solo an event, and Mike makes a big point of highlighting Dave’s presence by pointing, worshipping, glowing, and directing all the energy towards Dave when he’s playing a solo like on “I Get Around”, “409”, “Shut Down” “Barbara Ann”, ”Don’t Worry Baby” etc…etc… And Dave makes each of those solos his own while still referencing the original recording. He was huge too.

Those three guys dominate the show, at least the one I saw. Bruce is great, he sings his ass off, but visually you sometimes forget he’s there. Brian is a non-factor unless he’s singing a lead. But in his little moments, like when he sang the middle of “Surfer Girl” the crowd goes nuts for him. They know who he is.

The back line is the best one they ever had. The combination of Cowsill and Totten with Brian’s guys gives them more than they need. It’s a wealth of riches. Just Bennet and Darian alone are so talented, and to have them, and Jeff etc… as back line talent is ridiculous…in a good way. Special props to Cowsill and Nelson Bragg for the awesome energy they brought to the show. I nearly passed out watching them it was so high voltage, or maybe it was the daiquiris I was drinking. Either way they were on freaking fire!

The bottom line of this post is that The Beach Boys absolutely slayed 30,000 fans. The crowd was so huge they were bursting the barriers of the space they had allotted for a Beach Boys appearance. I could not believe when I looked out there, from Brian’s perspective, it was wall to wall happy white people, which is weird in New Orleans, but man they were having a good time. The set was just one classic after another after another after another…the only time about 500 of them left to go to the bathroom was during “That's Why God Made The Radio” which is exactly what they would do in 1977 when the boys played “Honkin Down The Highway”. And just when you thought they’d played all the classics they spring “Heroes and Villains” on you, or “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and then you realize…they’ve played 25 iconic masterpieces, and they still have BETTER songs in their arsenal. I never thought, in this day and at their age, I’d see the Beach Boys OWNING a stadium-sized audience in the way they did in New Orleans on Friday April 27th 2012. They did it. As senior citizens with their leader having a bad day they absolutely blew the audience away. And they made it look easy, and fun. Go see this tour.


« Last Edit: April 30, 2012, 11:18:47 AM by Jon Stebbins » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2012, 10:58:21 AM »

Thank you so much for your review, Jon ! It felt good reading it although of course it's sad Brian didn't feel that good. But we know that happens
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« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2012, 10:59:11 AM »

Great post and review as always Jon, thanks! Are you able to tell us if any of Dave's songs made the cut for the album?
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« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2012, 11:02:37 AM »

Thanks, Jon.  I'm extremely jealous, but it sounds like you had a great time.  I'll be seeing the Milwaukee show later in the tour, and I'm very much looking forward to it. 
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« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2012, 11:05:19 AM »

Jon, I hate to use this word, but your review was "awesome" in every way.  Thanks for posting it!  Gave me a sense of being there.

Yeah, Brian is going to have some good and bad days, but he is playing through it, and one has to credit him for that.  He must view each of these shows as a small mountain to climb.

It all just sounds like it was FANTASTIC.  Maybe I will get tickets to Irvine CA.

Hoping for a DVD too!
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« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2012, 11:08:16 AM »

Thanks for that great review, Jon!

Just out of curiosity, I noticed that Al and Dave are in different positions onstage than they were in Atlanta. Wondering if that just happened or if there was a reason.


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« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2012, 11:11:08 AM »

that was a nice read, thanks!
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« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2012, 11:14:58 AM »

Fantastic review and insight..

Thanks for posting
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« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2012, 11:23:08 AM »

Jon, great review, thank you. I was getting emotional reading it. I can't wait for my turn to see them on May 19th in Atlantic City. We all know Brian has his good days and bad days, but was wondering how the rest of the band deals with those bad days?
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Jon Stebbins
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« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2012, 11:29:05 AM »

Jon, great review, thank you. I was getting emotional reading it. I can't wait for my turn to see them on May 19th in Atlantic City. We all know Brian has his good days and bad days, but was wondering how the rest of the band deals with those bad days?
From what I saw they take it in stride. Backstage Mike was asking Brian if he'd like a massage, you know rub his shoulders for him. Really nice. Dave knew Brian wasn't feeling great, but he was so happy to get out there and play his songs with him. These guys are battle tested, the seem committed...I know its early, things could fray, its the Beach Boys. But from what I saw, and I saw it up close, its a family and the family is getting along.
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« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2012, 11:33:25 AM »

Jon, great review, thank you. I was getting emotional reading it. I can't wait for my turn to see them on May 19th in Atlantic City. We all know Brian has his good days and bad days, but was wondering how the rest of the band deals with those bad days?
From what I saw they take it in stride. Backstage Mike was asking Brian if he'd like a massage, you know rub his shoulders for him. Really nice. Dave knew Brian wasn't feeling great, but he was so happy to get out there and play his songs with him. These guys are battle tested, the seem committed...I know its early, things could fray, its the Beach Boys. But from what I saw, and I saw it up close, its a family and the family is getting along.
This is great news, thanks for the excellent post, Jon!
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Jon Stebbins
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« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2012, 11:35:29 AM »

Great post and review as always Jon, thanks! Are you able to tell us if any of Dave's songs made the cut for the album?
Thanks. I'd be surprised if Dave or Bruce got songs on the album. I think this album is mostly Brian, Joe Thomas, and some Mike stuff. I realize Al, Dave and Bruce submitted material, not sure how much if any is going to be on the record. They did record vocals for one of Dave's songs but not sure how developed that track is. I think there could be more opportunity for everyone's tracks to get space if things evolve like some hope they will. How's that for vague? Sorry i can only say so much because I only hear unconfirmed things.
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Jon Stebbins
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« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2012, 11:37:33 AM »

Thanks for that great review, Jon!

Just out of curiosity, I noticed that Al and Dave are in different positions onstage than they were in Atlanta. Wondering if that just happened or if there was a reason.



I think they are evolving, and adjusting to each venue as they go. How was Atlanta?
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« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2012, 12:33:51 PM »

Someone linked this thread on my FB page...

Atlanta was tremendous- they seemed to be having such a great time and really enjoying the joyous reception by a full house. Brian perked up for one unforgettable moment- he got a deeply rapturous look on his face and air-conducted during the bridge to "God Only Knows". (He also traded good-spirited shots with Mike, almost in the spirit of Cassius Love and Sonny Wilson- once Brian just yelled "The Great Mike Love!" while Mike was speaking, and Mike called Brian "The Maharajah Of Great").

Mike was in great spirits and interacted with the audience even more, and more generously, than I remember in the past. happily signing an original Pet Sounds and a bunch of other stuff during "Kokomo"- as did Bruce. He slapped hands with fans during every song and just celebrated the whole night- as they all did.  There was a spirit of celebration that recalled Brian's early tours, but as with those, the most striking feature of the whole event was the consistent excellent taste in every aspect. If each one of us had jotted down our formula for doing this thing right, this would have been the consensus.

To your comments about the line-up, I would only add this: it was Dave's presence that gave it the final historical legitimacy for me, and I shouldn't have been surprised that he brought the musical legitimacy to the front line as well.  Mike is still a great showman, and Bruce and especially Al are in amazingly great voice, and they were all in great spirit, but Dave really not only represented the originals instrumentally, his guitar was the driving and dominating force onstage.  He carried the load.  And not only was his playing great, his guitar sound was among the best I've ever heard live.  One of my chill [ ...]* for the evening was hearing "All This Is That" and registering that one of the voices I was hearing in that beautiful mix had last been audible on "Cuckoo Clock", "Ten Little Indians", and "Chug-A-Lug".  O.K., you could nitpick that statement, but you know what I mean.

When Mike was introducing "All This Is That" I got carried away and yelled out my support at him- just as he was saying that the song got him high.  Mike quickly qualified that- "...a natural high". I kind of winced- I wasn't cheering for high Mike, I was cheering that song and you guys and the great message of that whole evening.

Many, many thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lime, if Harry ever posts here again, for making me their guest at this unforgettable event.  

* for some reason it won't let me post the words "bump" or "moments" there
« Last Edit: April 30, 2012, 12:39:05 PM by Surfer Joe » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2012, 12:38:24 PM »

Great post and review as always Jon, thanks! Are you able to tell us if any of Dave's songs made the cut for the album?
Thanks. I'd be surprised if Dave or Bruce got songs on the album. I think this album is mostly Brian, Joe Thomas, and some Mike stuff. I realize Al, Dave and Bruce submitted material, not sure how much if any is going to be on the record. They did record vocals for one of Dave's songs but not sure how developed that track is. I think there could be more opportunity for everyone's tracks to get space if things evolve like some hope they will. How's that for vague? Sorry i can only say so much because I only hear unconfirmed things.

Very interesting stuff, thanks again Jon.
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« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2012, 12:41:28 PM »

Someone linked this thread on my FB page...

Atlanta was tremendous- they seemed to be having such a great time and really enjoying the joyous reception by a full house. Brian perked up for one unforgettable moment- he got a deeply rapturous look on his face and air-conducted during the bridge to "God Only Knows". (He also traded good-spirited shots with Mike, almost in the spirit of Cassius Love and Sonny Wilson- once Brian just yelled "The Great Mike Love!" while Mike was speaking, and Mike called Brian "The Maharajah Of Great").

Mike was in great spirits and interacted with the audience even more, and more generously, than I remember in the past. happily signing an original Pet Sounds and a bunch of other stuff during "Kokomo"- as did Bruce. He slapped hands with fans during every song and just celebrated the whole night- as they all did.  There was a spirit of celebration that recalled Brian's early tours, but as with those, the most striking feature of the whole event was the consistent excellent taste in every aspect. If each one of us had jotted down our formula for doing this thing right, this would have been the consensus.

To your comments about the line-up, I would only add this: it was Dave's presence that gave it the final historical legitimacy for me, and I shouldn't have been surprised that he brought the musical legitimacy to the front line as well.  Mike is still a great showman, and Bruce and especially Al are in amazingly great voice, and they were all in great spirit, but Dave really not only represented the originals instrumentally, his guitar was the driving and dominating force onstage.  He carried the load.  And not only was his playing great, his guitar sound was among the best I've ever heard live.  One of my chill [ ...]* for the evening was hearing "All This Is That" and registering that one of the voices I was hearing in that beautiful mix had last been audible on "Cuckoo Clock", "Ten Little Indians", and "Chug-A-Lug".  O.K., you could nitpick that statement, but you know what I mean.

When Mike was introducing "All This Is That" I got carried away and yelled out my support at him- just as he was saying that the song got him high.  Mike quickly qualified that- "...a natural high". I kind of winced- I wasn't cheering for high Mike, I was cheering that song and you guys and the great message of that whole evening.

Many, many thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lime, if Harry ever posts here again, for making me their guest at this unforgettable event.  

* for some reason it won't let me post the words "bump" or "moments" there


That was pretty funny but it wasnt just you who yelled, a bunch of people did Smiley
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« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2012, 12:47:15 PM »

I thought I yelled first and then some people yelled in agreement, and was totally embarrassed.  Hope it was all simultaneous!
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« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2012, 12:49:08 PM »

It's great to read a review like that from someone who is deeply familiar with the Beach Boys.  I can't wait for the Hollywood Bowl show.

Let's hope the chemistry of the group holds together through the grind of traveling, rehearsing and playing 56 shows.  
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« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2012, 12:57:19 PM »

Brian perked up for one unforgettable moment- he got a deeply rapturous look on his face and air-conducted during the bridge to "God Only Knows". (He also traded good-spirited shots with Mike, almost in the spirit of Cassius Love and Sonny Wilson- once Brian just yelled "The Great Mike Love!" while Mike was speaking, and Mike called Brian "The Maharajah Of Great").

Can't get enough of accounts like that.
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« Reply #19 on: April 30, 2012, 01:16:40 PM »

The one thing I want to add to Jon's post is how amazing it was to watch the group play as a "Stadium Band." They were absolutely grooving and feeding on the fact that they were playing to a massive crowd -- and nailing it. This wasn't like catching a show at Westbury or the Hammerstein Ballroom -- this was watching them rock a festival crowd. Everybody in the front line brought their A-game. It was astounding -- there was nothing that made me wince or feel cynical. Nothing that's made me groan about Mike or Brian's shows was there. I felt nothing but joy and pride.

Prior to the show, seeing Mike and Brian talk one on one in a (seemingly) private moment blew my mind. The connection is so strong that you can understand why Mike would jump through the necessary hoops to make this tour happen. For a guy we all thought only cared about the bottom line, it's clear to me that this is all happening (for him, at least) so that he can have time with Brian again. Who would've ever guessed that the Beach Boys would go out this cool and rocking??? Not them. Not ME.

I would have to say that it was Dave and Al that stole the show. Their energy was insane. Hopefully Guitar Player magazine and the like, will finally take a closer look at David and what he does. He gives new meaning to the word "major."
« Last Edit: April 30, 2012, 01:19:00 PM by Howie Edelson » Logged
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« Reply #20 on: April 30, 2012, 01:21:31 PM »

Wonder if that little "private moment" with Mike before the gig was the reason Brian was having a bad day, Howie.  Smiley

Just kidding.  Kinda.
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« Reply #21 on: April 30, 2012, 02:54:59 PM »

thanks. I'd be surprised if Dave or Bruce got songs on the album. I think this album is mostly Brian, Joe Thomas, and some Mike stuff. I realize Al, Dave and Bruce submitted material, not sure how much if any is going to be on the record. They did record vocals for one of Dave's songs but not sure how developed that track is. I think there could be more opportunity for everyone's tracks to get space if things evolve like some hope they will. How's that for vague? Sorry i can only say so much because I only hear unconfirmed things.

So how many joe thomas songs are on there you think. Is this like a joe thomas edited/reaaranged by brian album?
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Jon Stebbins
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« Reply #22 on: April 30, 2012, 03:32:35 PM »

thanks. I'd be surprised if Dave or Bruce got songs on the album. I think this album is mostly Brian, Joe Thomas, and some Mike stuff. I realize Al, Dave and Bruce submitted material, not sure how much if any is going to be on the record. They did record vocals for one of Dave's songs but not sure how developed that track is. I think there could be more opportunity for everyone's tracks to get space if things evolve like some hope they will. How's that for vague? Sorry i can only say so much because I only hear unconfirmed things.

So how many joe thomas songs are on there you think. Is this like a joe thomas edited/reaaranged by brian album?
No clue. I haven't been given any of those kind of details. My info above is pretty blurry because I'm only getting third hand unconfirmed snippets. The principals are being very tight-lipped about album info so far and I respect that.
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Jon Stebbins
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« Reply #23 on: April 30, 2012, 03:35:34 PM »

Wonder if that little "private moment" with Mike before the gig was the reason Brian was having a bad day, Howie.  Smiley

Just kidding.  Kinda.
It seemed like Mike and Al were going out of their way to cheer Brian up. His mood actually improved from arrival to concert end.
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« Reply #24 on: April 30, 2012, 03:54:17 PM »

How was Atlanta?

Jon, my review is here: http://smileysmile.net/board/index.php/topic,12840.msg268376.html#msg268376

Soundcheck was a mighty cool experience too. And I totally agree with you and Howie about what Dave's guitar playing adds to the sound. These guys rock!


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