Personnel: Scott Totten, Jeffrey Foskett, Probyn Gregory (vocals, guitar); Paul Mertens (vocals, horns); Darian Sahanaja, Scott Montgomery Bennett (vocals, keyboards); John Cowsill (vocals, drums); Nelson Bragg (vocals, percussion); Michael D'Amico (vocals).
Photographer: Eddie Sung.
For a few months in 2012, the Beach Boys managed to put aside all their differences and bask in the glow of an entirely successful reunion. They had a new album of original material that people liked and sold well, and they toured the world performing a set that stretched upwards of 40 songs, their concerts receiving acclaim from fans and critics alike. It was too good to last and it didn't. Halfway through the tour, it was revealed that Mike Love planned to carry on with Bruce Johnston as the Beach Boys, leaving Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, and David Marks behind, and that meant this 50th anniversary tour was truly a once-in-a-lifetime thing; it was the only time the group members put aside their differences and celebrated the music they made together. That warmth was evident on 2012's That's Why God Made the Radio and in the accompanying tour, and it's somewhat present on Live: The 50th Anniversary Tour, the double-disc souvenir of this reunion. Released in time for the summer of 2013, this album appears to collect highlights from a variety of concerts -- the liner notes provide no source material -- and it seems to perhaps have been sweetened in the studio, as the overall sound is exceedingly bright and crisp, pushing the harmonies to the forefront and sacrificing feel for cleanliness. Perhaps the sound is too pristine, but the essential good vibes can shine through: the set list is hit-heavy with just enough new tunes and surprises ("Getcha Back," "Marcella," "All This Is That" being the prime fan favorites given a hearing here) to keep things lively, and the band never sounds tired of playing these old tunes. At home, the experience isn't quite as moving as it was in person -- there was an undeniable kinetic energy seeing the five members sharing the stage once again -- but it's nevertheless a pleasant dose of nostalgia. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine