Good Vibrations

When I found out that Brian Wilson was touring with The Beach Boys this summer as part of the group’s 50 anniversary tour, I thought it was about time. When I learned they were going to perform at Provo’s Stadium of Fire on the Fourth of July, I knew we had to get tickets.

I try to avoid the Stadium of Fire because (a) I don’t like the traffic, and (b) I haven’t been interested in the talent, and (c) often the emcees have been conservative ideologues who think their extreme right-wing brand of patriotism is the only true kind of patrotism.

The traffic was still a problem, but the main performers were going to be The Beach Boys and the emcee was Alex Boye, and I could live with that.

The traffic was everything that could be expected. The flag ceremony was impressive. The opening acts were harmless. It wasn’t the kind of stuff I would pay for, frankly, but that’s not why I was there. The fireworks were fun, from inside the stadium. I read some complaints from folks who watched the fireworks from outside the stadium and felt they failed to deliver much punch. In this case, you got what you paid for.

The Beach Boys part of the Stadium of Fire was a highlight, much to their credit. Here was a group of old men — most around 70 — singing songs that were equally old — most around 50. But the songs sounded fresh, the music moved the crowd, and everybody I saw was having a great time.

The best part was hearing Brian Wilson sing the lead vocals on “God Only Knows,” “Good Vibrations” and other favorite songs.

Clearly his voice is not what it used to be, and someone else had to carry the falsetto parts that used to be his trademark sound. But Brian hasn’t toured with the band since the 1990s, even though he was largely responsible for most of the bands songs.

And every time he sang a solo, it was a touching moment.

To be clear, I love this group. I bought their albums when I was in high school. I listen to “Pet Sounds” at least once a week, and usually follow it up with Brian’s “SMiLE” which came out in 2004.

For Father’s Day, I added “That’s Why God Made the Radio,” The Beach Boy’s CD which was released last month.

And seeing them in person did not disappoint. What a great way to spend Independence Day — and celebrate my birthday which comes two days later.

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