Archive for the ‘Charleston’ tag
The last time I saw The Beach Boys was on the now legendary 2012 50th Anniversary Reunion Tour in Atlanta. Since then, Mike Love and Bruce Johnston have been leading the "Beach Boys" flagged tour with the permission if not the participation of the other members, and Friday they brought the show to the North Charleston Performing Arts Center, a fairly intimate venue with great sound (in marked contrast to some of the outdoor venues I've seen them in over the years).
I got there about 40 minutes early and decided to have a concession stand hot-pretzel and beer while waiting: $13.50. Talk about your captive customers!
The shows started before the band came on with a video presentation with bits of Beach Boys' history and footage of performances from the last 50 years. Then the band came out and started into a back-to-back presentation of the surfing songs including "Surfin' Safari", "Catch a Wave", "Hawaii", & "Surfin' USA". The touring band is (at least for this venue) eight people. Mike & Bruce, of course, Jeff Foskett who has been with various band permutations since the 80s on guitar and falsetto, John Cowsill (from the 60s group "The Cowsills") on drums, Scott Totten on guitar and vocals, a Brian (not Wilson, obviously) whose last name I did not catch on bass and an energetic sax player whose name I did not catch at all as well as a second keyboard player.
I thought the sound was a little thin at the beginning on "Surfin' Safari", but they either made adjustments or everyone warmed up because things were much more solid after that. Mike did the MC duties and seems to be slipping into the role of "Elder Statesman" fairly well, something you might not have expected from the younger Love. His speaking voice had a bit of quaver, and at times you could hear his age in the leads, but on the whole he came over very well, including a long segment of "Do It Again" where he was completely unsupported by any other vocals for whole verses.
One of the criticisms Mike has gotten over the years is of running a greatest hits show rather than displaying the breadth of the Beach Boys catalog. In fairness, I think he knows what a festival audience wants, but in this venue he definitely showcased some of the lesser known gems including "Farmer's Daughter", "Kiss Me Baby", "Good To My Baby", "Surf City" & "The Warmth Of The Sun".
Although surprisingly Mike did not mention his recent memoir, the weight of history was definitely part of the show. One device, used several times, was having historical footage play behind the band while they performed a song. It was somewhat eerie at times to see current Mike singing in front of young Mike, closely in sync and often making the same gestures. That had to have taken a lot of practice. The band also paid tribute to the late Carl & Dennis Wilson by singing backup to historical leads: Carl on "God Only Knows" and Dennis on "Do You Wanna Dance?". This led into a segment where Mike touched on his Eastern beliefs about what goes on and what remains and introduced a well received new song "Pisces Brothers" that was largely a tribute to his late friend George Harrison.
Bruce got two notable leads during the show. One was, of course, his often covered and much loved "Disney Girls" while the other was "You're So Good To Me" during which he altered the original phrasing quite a bit, which was unexpected but largely worked, I thought. Speaking of which, I also noticed that Mike had written a number of new lyrics to "Getcha Back".
After a brief pro-forma walk-off, the band was back for an encore to close with two of their biggest crowd-pleasers Barbara Ann & Fun, Fun Fun (I can't put the version I recorded last night here, because it was very much a sing-along -- and I can't sing). I do have a few more videos to upload, so check this space again..
I got my ticket just after the North Charleston show was announced. Shortly after that, they also announced a show for 29 January 2017 at the Koger Center in Columbia. Folks, these guys are in their 70s: I highly recommend you go to the Columbia show if at all you can, because a) It's a great show & b) You may not have another chance.
There are certain restaurants I want to like more than I do. El Burro Loco in Myrtle Beach is one -- I go by every five years or so to see if it is finally any good. Bocci's in Charleston was another.
Since it was conveniently located next to the original location of Theatre 99, and near to The Market, and since I like Italian, I used to check it out every so often. I think every time I did, it was a really mediocre experience, including the last time, around Christmas 2013 when I waited two hours for an unexceptional pizza. They did have really sharp matchbooks though.
Well, the talk in the comments about Winn Dixie gives me an opening to post these pictures from North Charleston.
I forget exactly why I was in Charleston last this May, but I was struck by this run-down plaza on Rivers Avenue as I headed down into the peninsula. As you can see it was a rather gray day so the pictures aren't great, and I didn't stop to do a walkabout, but it just struck me as rather sad.
Notice that as in the Decker store the chain didn't even manage to get its branding off the building.
When you say you've been to see "The Doobie Brothers", that's almost as uninformative as saying you've been to see "The Drifters" given the convoluted group histories involved. Suffice it to say that the current incarnation of The Doobies hews to the original concept, and includes founders Pat Simmons and Tom Johnston.
I've seen several shows at the North Charleston Coliseum complex, including most memorably The Eagles and Blondie, but I believe those shows were in The Coliseum proper, a much larger venue than the Performing Arts Center. The center reminds me of the Koger Center both in size and the awful European style bank seating. It seemed that never more than 5 minutes went by before some portly person or another was making way across my seat towards the far distant center. I would say the show was about 80% sold with the crowd being entirely middle aged and white..
Lack of aisles aside, the sound was very good, and the security was just as casual as Newberry. I had emptied my pockets of all nail clippers and change in expectation of being herded through metal detectors, or at least being wanded, but no such eventuality occurred. In fact, many people were taking pictures and recording the show on their cellphones. If I had know that in advance, I would have taken the closing-cam in and gotten some very nice shots and videos. At any rate, I expect some to appear on youtube and elsewhere over the next few days.
The frontman for Charleston's Blue Dogs opened with an acoustic set which was generally well received. I thought he was pleasant, but frankly didn't hear anything which would make me seek out a Blue Dogs album.
After he finished, the Doobie roadies finished setting up the stage, which took about 15 min and then the band came out. They had an interesting configuration, one that I don't think I've see a rock band use before. Of course the classic rock band setup is lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass and drums. The Doobies have three guitarists and *two* drummers as well as bass, keyboards and sax.
So how were they? Well, I won't bury the lead too deep: They were excellent! Given the revolving door history of the band you have to start off a bit worried, but then Tom Johnston starts to sing, and well, they sound like The Doobie Brothers and if you get the chance you should go.
The setlist was what about what you would expect with all the hit singles up until the start of the Michael McDonald era (and they did do a very credible version of "Takin' It To The Streets").
The audience started a little skeptical but we were won quickly over. It's always a risk for a legacy group to try to sell new material, but the three songs from the new album were well received, mostly I think because they sounded like classic-era Doobies, not some new and evolved tangent. When they started a long blues jam with solos all round, they got their first mainly standing ovation as I think we largely came to the simultaneous realization: Hey, these guys are good!.
For me, the best moment was the encore set. When they came back out, they started a sort of non-descript mid-tempo rock where you were thinking yeah, that's ok, but what is it? and then Johnston started into the "China Grove" riff..
Woah ho, listen to the music!