Fifty years ago a group of young, angel-voiced California boys showed up late for the surf rock craze that had stormed the nation. Against the odds, those Beach Boys became one of the most successful groups of the '60s and one of the most influential pop bands of all time. As unlikely as their accomplishments were, the notion that they would be back together, playing in Raleigh in 2012 may have seemed even more impossible.
Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and Mike Love, the surviving members of the original Beach Boys, are celebrating their 50th anniversary with a world tour, and on April 29 they will stop at the Raleigh Amphitheater. The sure-to-be-coveted-tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on Feb. 25. It's the first time the original members of the band have reunited in more than two decades.
The obvious question: Are these surf anthem veterans ready to ride, or are they all washed up? This Sunday's Grammy Awards offered clues as the Boys and their large backing band took to the stage to offer up a rendition of "Good Vibrations," perhaps their most recognizable hit. In sound, it's hard to fault them. Their harmonies were immaculate as ever, and that high-pitched Electro-Theremin wail is still just as cool as it was in 1966. Still, the trio, especially Wilson, looked a bit tired, like playing just the one song took tremendous effort. They might just need time to get into touring shape, but doubts as to their energy are still hard to repress.
Adding to the excitement for Beach Boys devotees is news that the reunited line-up will also be releasing a new LP with Wilson, the famed producer of classics such as Pet Sounds and Today!, back behind the boards. Wilson's recent studio work doesn't exactly assure this will be a success. While his 2004 revision of lost Beach Boys album SMiLE and 2008's That Lucky Old Sun show he's capable of approaching his old glory, questionable calls like last year's In the Key of Disney breed trepidation. But will anyone in Raleigh be there to hear new songs?
The Raleigh date is the third on the tour following stops at New Orleans' Jazz & Heritage Festival and Atlanta's Chastain Park Amphitheatre. The tour will then take the band across the U.S., including stops at Tennessee's Bonnaroo Music Festival and Milwaukee's Summerfest before the Boys head off to Europe in August. More info at thebeachboys.com.