The Beach Boys were onstage and playing away when we arrived and took our seats at 8:20. As is the case with all the musicians I loved as a kid and have seen at performances in recent years (Elton John, Billy Joel, Gordon Lightfoot, Anita Baker), the ability to hit the high notes and hold them is gone. Although I give them props for taking the stage and doing what they can with what remains of severely overused vocal chords, the truth is, they aint what they used to be. Nobody is.
But Brian Wilson's years of having fun, fun, fun have lead him to where he is now...done, done, done. I didn't see him walk onto the stage, but his exit from it was far from graceful. In fact, I wasn't certain he would make it without assistance. His slow, unsteady steps and poor posture reminded me of an NFL running back who'd rushed for 15,000 yards and had multiple knee replacement surgeries. My friend Beth said she saw him take a 10 second yawn in the middle of singing "Help Me, Rhonda".
And then there was Jeff Beck. I couldn't tell you the name of a single, solitary Yardbirds song, but that dude is one amazing guitar player. While it seemed like Wilson might hobble off the stage and go straight into an assisted living center, Beck appeared ready for an all-night jam session. His band was phenomenal. Beck had energy, he was mobile, and his music was crisp and powerful.
I grew up listening to The Beach Boys. Singing their songs last night - with three original band members on stage (Wilson, Mike Love and Al Jardin) in front of me - brought back memories of my younger years, and I recognized that I was witnessing something special. I'm not sure there will be many more live appearances for these guys. But, wouldn't it be nice?