The Beach Boys rock The Sharon with 100-minute show of classic hits

The Beach Boys’ endless summer turned into a boisterous, rocking Christmas party Saturday at The Sharon.

The sold out Villages’ crowd left with a serious case of the excitations – along with some good Christmas vibrations. Two more shows are scheduled for Sunday and are sold out.

This concert had everything, including tributes to beloved ghosts of rock and roll past – Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson and George Harrison. Also, the band played just about every Beach Boys’ hit from “Surfin’ Safari” to “Kokomo.”

The Beach Boys had the crowd standing and singing along with the song "Barbara Ann."
The Beach Boys had the crowd standing and singing along with the song “Barbara Ann.”

And if that wasn’t enough, the 100-minute performance featured a stunning medley of Christmas songs, including “White Christmas,” “Little Saint Nick” and “The Man With All the Toys.” There were also tributes to R&B pioneer Frankie Lymon and harmony masters The Four Freshmen.

Mike Love may be 75 but the surfer grandpa, along with longtime band member Bruce Johnston, put on a blistering, explosive display of rock and roll.

It didn’t take long to turn the heat up at The Sharon.

Love fronted the seven-piece band and kicked out the surfing jams with a wicked five-song opening set: “Surfin’ Safari,” “Catch A Wave,” “Hawaii,” “Do It Again” and “Surfin’ USA.”

Whew!

Those songs are quintessential Beach Boys with hot Chuck Berry guitar licks melding with Four Freshmen harmony.

That’s the formula the original band used to make rock history. The group started in Hawthorne, CA, with the Wilson brothers: Brian, Carl, Dennis along with their cousin Mike Love and, eventually Al Jardine on guitar.

Brian Wilson was the songwriter, troubled by mental and physical issues. Bruce Johnston replaced him on tour in the mid-1960s, and he and Love are still touring.

Mike Love, center, and Bruce Johnston on keyboards led the Beach Boys during two sold-out shows Saturday in The Sharon.
Mike Love, center, and Bruce Johnston on keyboards led the Beach Boys during two sold-out shows Saturday in The Sharon.

Carl Wilson died of cancer in 1998 and Dennis Wilson drowned in 1983. Jardine no longer tours with this group.

“This is our first time being here, we’re new to this place,” Love told the audience. “We never heard of The Villages until Fernando (Varela) told us about it.”

Varela’s Victory Productions promoted the show.

Beach Boy Mike Love shows The Sharon crowd how to wave their cellphones in the air as he sings "Surfer Girl."
Beach Boy Mike Love shows The Sharon crowd how to wave their cellphones in the air as he sings “Surfer Girl.”

Love then had some fun with the crowd, which seemed muted early on.

“I see nobody was up dancing to the fast songs,” Love said. “Maybe this is the kind of audience that needs a Barry Manilow medley.” He then added that Johnston earned a Grammy Award for writing “I Write the Songs,” a big hit for Manilow.

Love then led the group in some of the slower Beach Boys’ standards, starting with “Surfer Girl.”

Before singing, Love asked the crowd to put their cellphones in the air and light them up.

“Now, I want you to wave them from side to side, just like this,” Love said and the people obliged, giving the song an added glow.

The crowd sets a glow with their cellphones for Mike Love as he sings "Surfer Girl."
The crowd sets a glow with their cellphones for Mike Love as he sings “Surfer Girl.”

Next up was another Brian Wilson classic, “Don’t Worry Baby.” Veteran band member Jeffrey Foskett sang the lead and did the song justice. He also sang many of the high falsetto parts throughout the show.

Johnston announced it was time for “hot rods.”

Oddly enough outside The Sharon, the Spanish Springs Town Square was filled with vintage automobiles for a  “Christmas Cruise In” car show.

Things were just as cool inside as the Beach Boys hit the pedal hard on such rollicking hits as, “Little Deuce Coupe,” and “Shut Down.”

The group paid tribute to its rock and roll roots with “Why Do Fools Fall In Love,” originally done by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers.

The Christmas medley was highlighted by soft harmony on such numbers as “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” More Santa surf rock could be heard on “Man With All the Toys,” and the Beach Boys’ biggest Christmas song, “Little Saint Nick.”

Love then talked about some early history.

“Before we were the Beach Boys, we listened to the Four Freshmen,” he said. “One member in our group used to be in the later version of the Four Freshmen.”

Brian Eichenburger, who plays bass, came to the front of the stage and joined Love, Johnston and Scott Totten, who plays guitar, in a gorgeous accapella version of Freshmen song, “Their Hearts Were Full of Spring,”

The band then showed a video of Carl Wilson singing “God Only Knows,” as the Beach Boys on stage played the accompaniment. The same thing applied to Dennis Wilson, who appeared on video singing, “Dance, Dance, Dance.”

Love talked about his close friendship with George Harrison of the Beatles. He sang a touching and sentimental tribute to Harrison called, “Pisces Brothers,” with this lyric: “Although we’ll miss you now that you’re gone/your songs of life will go on.”   

Love and the band, which included John Cowsill on drums and Tim Bonhomme on keyboards, then played some standards.

The list included “Sloop John B,” “Help Me Rhonda,” “Darlin’,” “Do You Wanna Dance” and “Kokomo.”

Love announced this year is the 50th anniversary of the Beach Boys’ No. 1 ground-breaking album Pet Sounds” with the song “Good Vibrations.”

They played a masterful version of “Vibrations,” earning a standing ovation.

Nobody sat down as the Beach Boys left the stage and the band returned for two scorching encores that had the crowd standing and shouting the words to “Barbara Ann” and “Fun, Fun, Fun.”

Villagers Kathy and Bob Sneed rocked out with the Beach Boys.
Villagers Kathy and Bob Seed rocked out with the Beach Boys.

The people in the audience seemed just as excited and drained as the band.

“I had no idea what to expect but this was just awesome,” said Villager Bob Seed, who attended the show with his wife, Kathy. “Last time I saw them was 1991 and they sounded better tonight.”

Tracey Slaughter is a longtime Beach Boys’ fan, who attended the concert with her mother, Bonnie Schmitz.

During the show, Slaughter handed a bouquet of roses to Mike Love, who thanked her from the stage.

Tracey Slaughter, left, took her mother Bonnie Schmitz to the Beach Boys show as a Christmas present. It was Schmitz first rock concert ever.
Tracey Slaughter, left, took her mother Bonnie Schmitz to the Beach Boys show as a Christmas present. It was Schmitz first rock concert ever.

“I just love Mike Love,” Slaughter said. “I don’t know where Mike and the band get the stamina to do this kind of show, but it was great.”

It was the first rock concert ever for Schmitz.

“My daughter brought me here as a Christmas gift, and it was great,” Schmitz said.  “I’m 72, but I still like rock and roll.”

Age didn’t matter on this night, for the band, or its fans.

“The Beach Boys are forever young,” Slaughter said.

Just like her mom.