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To anyone who has seen him perform, spoken with him or just read an interview with the man, there would be little surprise in last week’s news that Mike Love – the Beach Boy who owns the name but not the brilliance – is a Trump supporter.

There’s something about the crassness, the history-rewriting, the dodgy hair, the poor fashion sense, the self-regard that feels familiar.

In 2007, back when Trump was a trash human confined to bad casino deals, failed business and awful television, Love brought his version of The Beach Boys to Australia. There were a few other comparisons to be made, and not just the fact this big room was curtained off as the audience was far more modest than a certain Californian.

Button your Hawaiian shirts kids, we’re going in.



Sydney Entertainment Centre, November 14

To his very public resentment, Mike Love has been an easy target for decades for those who favour the "Brian Wilson genius auteur" theory of the Beach Boys over Love's preferred "I'm the voice and spirit of the Beach Boys" line.

Wilson has, latterly, toured the world with brilliantly reproduced and brilliantly marketed recreations of the extensive Beach Boys catalogue and in particular his masterworks, the Smile and Pet Sounds albums. In Love's eyes his cousin has been the critics' pet, the peccadilloes and obscurities championed by beard strokers while he, Love, gave the people what they really wanted: the fun, fun, fun of that idealised summer of yore.

So how does this version of a Beach Boys show (with only original Boy, Love, joined by long time member Bruce Johnston and five hired hands) compare with Wilson's version (one original Boy joined by eight hired hands)?

As musicians and singers this version aren't even on the same patch of sand as Wilson's mob.

The sound is thin and the song selection weighted heavily, if unsurprisingly to the early years of the band; they play efficiently but lack the skill and importantly the enthusiasm of Wilson's fans-turned-backing musicians; and the tempos of their most vibrant songs are just a little too slow, so an audience keen to get up and dance all night, spend a good portion of it sitting down nodding faithfully.

But crucially, unforgivably for a group whose name was based on vocal adroitness, vocally they fall well short with harmonies often poor or just plain bad and only two of the band offering real strength.

With Love and Johnston doing less than half the lead vocals (a historical fact which somewhat undermines Love's claim to being the Voice) there is a strange feeling of being at a covers band night.

This is only reinforced by the bizarre decision to include non-Beach Boys songs such as And Then He Kissed Me, Why Do Fools Fall In Love and California Dreaming into the set. Nice tunes, but aren't there enough Beach Boys songs to fill the night?

Beyond that though, there is a creeping cynicism beneath the whole Beach Boys façade as the night wears on. A glib, emotionless attitude which has an outer shell of bonhomie and an inner emptiness.

Of course the audience applauded wildly: it's what they do. But having paid not insubstantial sums for tickets, don't they deserve better than this?

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