Review: The Beach Boys and John Stamos had “Fun, Fun, Fun” performing in Syracuse

Review: Beach Boys, Stamos had “Fun, Fun, Fun” in Syracuse

The (mostly older) crowd got wild for the band's Christmas hits during last night's holiday show at The Oncenter Crouse Hinds Theater.
Published: December 8, 2022
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The Beach Boys' Mike Love points out to the ladies of the first row as they sang along at the Oncenter Crouse Hinds Theater on Wednesday night.

There was an unusual amount of sexual desire at Wednesday’s Beach Boys concert, especially for a Christmas show. Back in the day, the band played for crowds of screaming, hyperventilating teens as seen in the show’s introduction montage. But that level of sex appeal is hard to maintain as people age. Well, unless you’re John Stamos – honorary Beach Boy.

The only original member currently playing with the band is Mike Love. At 81, it’s unrealistic to think he’ll sound like he did when he was in his 20s. Oftentimes, the gorgeous orchestra and harmonious “oooo-waahhh-ooo”s of the band overpowered him. But if you’re going to a Beach Boys concert in 2022, you probably don’t care about Love’s vocal quality. You just want to have fun. And Stamos injected the night with so much fun and energy – standing on his drum seat or holding the tinseled microphone stand to the crowd. At one point, a woman yelled for him to remove his shirt. Clad in a dark red suit, pushing back the long hair curling at his neck with a guitar in his other hand, he looked like the rockstar he played on tv.

I grew up watching reruns of Full House. My dad and I joke often about the corniness of our favorite ‘90s sitcom, especially the episodes with The Beach Boys. The plot line of the band going to the Tanners’ house to play with Stamos’s character, Uncle Jesse, is as ridiculous as it is heartwarming. The show was successful in introducing a new audience to the idyllic harmonies of the group. At 16, The Beach Boys’ Christmas album was one of the first I bought for my record player.

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John Stamos embraces a guitar solo while Bruce Johnson cheers him on.

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Beach Boys fans react during the band's concert Wednesday at the Oncenter Crouse Hinds Theater.

From the 1964 album, the band played both originals like “The Man with All the Toys” and covers like “White Christmas” as well as a few songs from Love’s solo holiday album, The Reason for the Season. They saved their best Christmas song for last, like a present you have to wait until Christmas morning to open, “The Little Saint Nick.” With the exception of this song, it wasn’t the holiday music that got people out of their seats, it was the hits.

From the beginning of the harp-like opening chords of “Wouldn’t it Be Nice,” the crowd was up dancing and clapping along. All of the upbeat songs one would hope and expect to hear at a Beach Boys concert (“California Girls,” “Help Me, Rhonda,” Good Vibrations” and “Kokomo”) were played, but I couldn’t help but feel a certain sadness when Mike Love’s son, Christian Love, sang “God Only Knows.” It was played as a tribute to Carl Wilson, original member and cousin to Love, who died of lung cancer in 1998. But the song is tied so heavily in my mind with the writer, Brian Wilson – who is still very much alive. The three remaining original members, Love, Brian Wilson and Al Jardine have not played together since 2012.

It’s hard to write a review about the band without acknowledging their off-stage drama. While Love may own the rights to the name, many fans consider Brian Wilson to be the true genius behind their signature sound. Through lawsuits and opposing politics, it seems unlikely there will be a reunion. Watching the screen behind the band play old clips of boys together, I couldn’t help but wish for a Christmas miracle to reunite the band and family.

Another touching tribute was dedicated to Bob Saget, Stamos’s Full House costar and friend who died earlier this year. Stamos sang “Forever,” a Beach Boys cover he performed on the show that made his character’s band, Jesse and the Rippers, hit No. 1 on the charts in Japan.

“He was such a good-hearted man.” Stamos said of Saget. He left nothing on the table, he told everybody how much he loved them, how proud he was. I think that’s a good part of his legacy that we should keep going. So, tell people that you love them and care about them.”

This prompted a woman to scream “I love you, John.”

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The Beach Boys co-creator Mike Love owns the stage at 81 years old on Wednesday.

I initially wondered why someone as rich and famous as Stamos would want to spend a Wednesday night in Syracuse playing to a crowd of mostly people who were alive when the first Beach Boys album came out (although there was a bit of a younger audience, as well). I realized very quickly that it is simply because he loves it. It was evident as he danced around the stage, when he picked up a toddler from the crowd and brought him up to “help” him strum the guitar. He and Love banter like old friends, like when Stamos brought up the fact that a song was the same age as him.

“You don’t need to remind me of the year of your birth, your mother and I had some great times,” Love said.

When Stamos asked Love to dedicate a song to the ladies out there, “and some of the guys too,” Love jokingly remarked on Stamos’s past role on “that ‘Glee’ program.”

After the band closed out on “Fun, Fun, Fun,” the crowd stood standing, anticipating an encore that never came. It was the kind of concert you don’t want to end, the kind of concert you feel lucky to be there.

“You know, I don’t take one of these nights for granted,” Stamos said. “One of these concerts, one of these moments, one of these songs for granted because I am the luckiest man in the world to play with the greatest band in the world.”