The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Tour Review

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 11th September 2012.

Last month I finally fulfilled a lifetime dream. I sang live with The Beach Boys. Well, to be fair, I sang along with The Beach Boys. Close enough.

To celebrate their 50th anniversary, the surviving original members of the legendary Californian supergroup regrouped for a brand new studio album and world tour, which hit Australian shores in August. Their Sydney gig at Allphones Arena was almost sold out and I was lucky enough to acquire seats within metres of the stage.

The crowd was mostly baby boomers but I certainly wasn’t the youngest person there, although it’s possible that I was the youngest person there without my parents, or grandparents. A cashed up crowd, there was already lines twenty deep at the merchandise stand by the time I arrived at the arena. With t-shirts at $50 each, I’m sure there were plenty of punters spending their kids’ inheritance money to beef up The Beach Boys’ retirement fund.

Prior to the show, I had looked up some live clips of the band from the last time that they were all playing together – the late eighties. To my dismay, I stumbled across a concert when they were joined onstage by the Tanner Family. That’s right, The Beach Boys guest starred on an episode of the atrocious sitcom Full House in 1988 that culminated in a live concert vocal massacre of Kokomo and Barbara Ann. I sure hoped the band had gotten rid of their daggy eighties stage clothes and more importantly, left Danny, Joey and Uncle Jesse behind.

To my relief, The Beach Boys have updated their wardrobes to tasteful Hawaiian shirts (is that possible?) and are certainly up to date with technology. From my seat I was able to observe lead singer Mike Love check his mobile phone for messages before climbing the stairs to the stage at the start the show.

Joined by an ultra tight backing group featuring members from Brian Wilson’s solo touring band, the boys were in fine voice. Their trademark harmonies were glorious as they ploughed through a whopping 52 song set over two sets. Hit after hit, the band covered five decades of music from their early tunes about surfing, girls and cars right through to their sophisticated wall of sound masterpieces from the Pet Sounds and Smile albums.

Audience interaction was kept to a minimum with only a small amount of banter every couple of songs. Mike Love’s self-deprecating jokes about the band’s advanced age were predictable but funny. Most noticeable was the lack of any obvious camaraderie between the original band members. I guess after fifty years together on the tour bus, there isn’t much left to say.

Three hours with The Beach Boys went by in a flash and before I knew it, I was thrust back into the sterile foyer area to find that almost all of the merchandise was sold out. Not so fun fun fun.

If The Beach Boys make it to their 60th anniversary, you can be sure that I’ll be there to sing along with them, dance badly to their hits and buy my merchandise much earlier.

Published in: on October 9, 2012 at 01:07  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Autograph Hunting

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 26th June 2012.

As a pop culture fanatic, I love to collect memorabilia, in particular, signed items. I’m not really interested in trying to make money by hanging onto these autographs until they appreciate in value and then sell them off. I’d rather put them on my wall as a reminder of an encounter with an artist whose work I admire.

Of course, it is not always easy to get an autographed item. Famous actors don’t tend to wander the streets very often. Most of my prized possessions are photos signed at pop culture conventions, such as Supanova, which was held in Sydney last weekend. The celebrities that attend these events tend to be stars from cult TV shows or movies, and most charge $30 or so for an autographed photo.

There’s plenty of signed collectibles available on eBay, but you never truly know if the autograph is legitimate. In the US, it is estimated that 90% of autographed items sold on eBay are forged.

So how can you obtain authentic signed items without travelling around the world stalking your favourite artist? The good news is that some great signed collectibles are available directly from musicians and actors websites, and not all of it will cost you a fortune.

I’ve previously written about my admiration for The Beach Boys. To celebrate their 50th Anniversary Tour, you can purchase an uncut proof sheet of their new CD artwork signed by all 5 surviving members of the band, including Brian Wilson, for only $500, directly from their website. If you fancy a limited edition signed surfboard, it’s a bargain at $6000, and there are only five out of ten left.

One of my favourite albums ever is Paul Simon’s Graceland, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Currently available from Simon’s online shop is a deluxe bundle which includes the Graceland boxset, the album on vinyl and a limited edition poster personally signed by the master songwriter. This bundle is only $250 and great value for cashed up Paul Simon fans.

Geeks rejoice. Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, sells an array of signed items on his website. My choice would be The Shat’s latest album, Seeking Major Tom, which will only set you back $95 for an autographed copy. I’d also recommend that you admire your signed CD and not actually listen to it.

Holy superannuation fund Batman! Everyone’s favourite Batman, Adam West, is still making a living from his iconic role from the sixties. Direct from the Adam West Store, you can grab a signed vintage art movie poster from the 1966 Batman film for $35.

If musicians float your boat and your budget is tight, then why not add a exclusive lithograph signed by Nelly Furtado to your wall? It will only set you back $25 directly from the artist herself. If you prefer your music and politics to the left, English singer songwriter Billy Bragg will put his pen to a copy of his Mermaid Avenue Complete Session CD boxset for $35. For the eighties tragics, pop queens Debbie Gibson and Tiffany will sell you a genuine signed photo for only $20 and $15, respectively.

Proving that you don’t have to spend a fortune to collect an autographed item, the cost of a cup of coffee is all it takes to get Guy Sabastian’s John Hancock. A signed copy of his latest single is available via JBHifi’s website for $4.

Whether it cost you a couple of bucks or a small fortune, or even a few hours hiding in the bushes in the Hollywood Hills, the true price of a signed collectible is its sentimental value to a fan.

The Beach Boys are Back

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 5th June 2012.

Stop the presses! One of my favourite bands of all time is coming to our shores. To celebrate their 50th anniversary, The Beach Boys will play Sydney on August 30.

Sure, the band has toured Australia several times in recent years but with a stripped down line-up of original lead vocalist Mike Love and long time member Bruce Johnston (he joined four years after the inception of the band in 1965), along with a backing band.

For this year’s reunion tour, the three other surviving members of the group, Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and David Marks are returning to the fold and the results should be fun, fun, fun.

It’s been twenty years since musical genius Brian Wilson has worked with the band. Responsible for The Beach Boys sound and its multi layered instrumental arrangements and harmonies, Wilson has been recording and touring as a solo act since becoming estranged from the group in the eighties due to mental illness and drug abuse. I’ve seen Brian Wilson in concert twice now. Along with an exceptionally tight backing band he puts on an unforgettable show.

50th anniversary reunions mustn’t come cheap. Either that, or the boys’ superannuation accounts need a big top up. The Ultimate Meet and Greet Package for the Sydney gig will set you back just over $1200 per person. You’ll get a ticket in the first five rows, exclusive souvenirs, food, unlimited booze and a programme. But that’s not all, you’ll also get to meet members of The Beach Boys and have a personal photo with them. Good value? Who cares? This is a unique opportunity and I’d love the VIP experience, but the mortgage says no. Please send cheques care of the Central Western Daily.

A new studio album and single also accompanies the tour. Both are entitled, “That’s Why God Made the Radio”. Released yesterday worldwide, the new single features the classic harmonies that made the band famous.

If you’ve still got some spare cash lying around after you’ve bought your VIP concert package, a mere $500 will get you the new CD, a t-shirt, poster and a very limited edition uncut proof sheet of the album artwork signed by all five members of The Beach Boys.

If you prefer the old stuff, the legendary Smile album boxset, complete with a full size surfboard signed by Brian Wilson will set you back $6000. Don’t delay, according to The Beach Boys website, there are only five sets remaining.

My favourite album of all time is Pet Sounds. My favourite song is God Only Knows. What is a Beach Boys fan with a cash flow problem to do? Rhonda wasn’t able to help, but Visa certainly did.

I’m not in the first five rows for the gig, but I managed to get great seats. I won’t be meeting the band either but that’s OK. I’ve always felt that there was something a little grubby about paying for someone’s autograph. The CD and t-shirt are on their way from the US but my uncut artwork proof is sans signatures.

With any luck, the 50th anniversary Beach Boys album and Australian tour will be a once in a lifetime event. Considering the extortionate prices of tickets and merchandise, it better be.

The Beach Boys play Allphones Arena on August 30.

Dubious Celebrity Endorsements

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 8th May 2012.

If you’ve been anywhere in the proximity of a television or newspaper lately, you’ll be aware that Coles have relaunched their flybuys program. With just a swipe of a loyalty card, millions of customers can swap their valuable spending habit information for points. These points can be exchanged for flights and other rewards, apparently. I’ve been a member since the program was launched and I’m yet to fly anywhere. I must need to buy more before I can fly.

The face of the relaunched loyalty program is Dawn French of The Vicar of Dibley and French and Saunders fame. That’s right, British actress, writer and comedienne Dawn French. When you think about it, she’s a great choice. She’s funny, personable and a self-declared chocoholic. The only problem is that she’s British actress, writer and comedienne Dawn French.

At the time of writing this column, there’s 22,897,609 people living in Australia and according to Coles, none of them are suitable to advertise an Australian supermarket chain. Has Dawn French even set foot in a Coles store?  Why should she care that I can pick five discounted products? By the way, I chose fish heads, iSnack 2.0, Bindeez Beads, Pikachu and One Direction CDs. Perhaps Nelson Mandela was not available to front the campaign?

Speaking of ridiculous celebrity endorsements, way back in the early nineties, Channel Nine was “still the one.” Every January, the network would launch its new season with an extended promo featuring the contracted stars of the channel making fools of themselves. The 1990 season launch was no different and features Ray Martin tap dancing, Daryl and Ossie and the gang from Hey Hey It’s Saturday in prison, Peter Graves and the Mission Impossible team singing and Don Burke mowing words into a lawn. Inexplicably there’s also some dodgy dancing by a couple dressed in fluoro lycra bike pants.

The whole shebang is set to the Johnny O’Keefe song Shout, performed on a sailing boat by its captain, Jermaine Jackson. You read it, Jermaine Jackson, member of The Jackson 5, brother of The King of Pop, Michael Jackson and well known Australian television viewer.  What is her doing on a boat singing the virtues of watching an Australian television station? Only his accountant knows.

The Beach Boys are back. To celebrate fifty years as a band, well, actually make that thirty years as a band and twenty years of legal disputes, Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks have reunited for a new album and worldwide tour. I can’t wait for them to hit our shores. Finger crossed for an Aussie tour.

Sometime in the early nineties, the Beach Boys, in their Love / Jardine / Johnston incarnation, were convinced to participate in a TV commercial for Manly Wharf. They re-recorded their iconic song Do It Again, with the altered lyrics “Let’s get back to the wharf and do it again.” How many times do you think the Beach Boys have been to Manly Wharf? My guess is just the once, to film the commercial. Obviously little deuce coupes are expensive and the royalties from Kokomo had run out.

I had planned to cite Tina Turner’s rugby league promos as the most ridiculous Aussie celebrity endorsement but it turns out that she actually is a big fan, supports Parramatta and can be found on the hill at every home game eating hot dogs.