Surf's still up for Beach Boys.
VENUE: Manchester Apollo
REVIEW BY: Tom Bailey.
IT'S easy to be sceptical towards tours that don't feature the original line-ups and this is certainly the case with The Beach Boys.
There is a massive void where Brian Wilson should be that is instead filled by his cousin Mike Love and two other originals, David Marks and Bruce Johnston, adding a much needed sense of authenticity to this pounds 40 a ticket event.
I'll be the first to admit I'm not a huge fan of the band. Their 60s surf pop is at times a guilty pleasure, while as a music journalist it would be a crime not to rave on about the genius of Pet Sounds.
So for me at least, this was going to be an interesting experience; amidst worries over what songs they would be 'allowed' to play due to songwriting issue with Brian, I really did not have a clue what to expect.
It took a few tracks for my nerves to settle, openers Do It Again and Don't Back Down, failed to get the night off to the upbeat start you'd expect.
But by the time the Surfin' Safari and Surfin' USA got an early airing the seated Apollo had started to come to life, as the crowd made up of all generations took to their feet.
As fun as their carefree pop still is, it's the combination of the superb vocal harmonies and the sentiment of tracks such as Surfer Girl, The Warmth of the Sun and the Dennis Wilson's penned Forever that impresses the most. I Get Around brings the set nicely into the interval - so far so good.
Returning to stage with easily the best run of the night in Sloop John B, a cover of The Mamas and The Papas' California Dreaming and the timeless masterpiece God Only Knows, it's at this point I realise my gamble on tonight has already paid off.
With an hour still to go this realisation is only confirmed by a captivating a-capella version of Their Hearts Were Full Of Springs, holding the audience in complete awe.
The set did lose some momentum when Love decided to do a few of his acoustic numbers before he, as some people would describe, 'stole', Brian's most personal moments covering In My Room and 'Till I Die. All is forgiven though, as favourites California Girls, Barbara Ann and Wouldn't It Be Nice all get a spirited outing, leading into the perfect encore of Good Vibrations and Fun Fun Fun.
Granted, for the hardcore fans their loyalty will remain with Brian, with Mike Love still being a symbol of hatred and anger for Wilson's most dedicated disciples.
For the more casual fans, this was simply an opportunity to hear live so many classics we thought we might never get the chance to.
Some may argue that this is still more of a tribute band than the genuine Beach Boys experience but I'd beg to differ.
There is that a sense that this is not just about the money and is still about the passion for the songs that have rightfully earned their place in history. And you can't really complain at a 50-plus song set. Still cruising after all these years? I think so.
GOOD VIBRATIONS: The Beach Boys