As recent Beach Boys concerts have declined into oldies shows, singer Mike Love has become the group's leader by default. He still clowns around and rattles off the hits. Last night he did much the same thing at the Bayou as a solo act. Backed by a Santa Barbara quartet, the Endless Summer Beach Band, Love sang a long list of Beach Boys hits, hits from other '60s artists and newly penned nostalgia songs. Love's always conservative approach to music made the show quite derivative; his golden California tenor made it quite enjoyable.
The Bayou show was certainly more disciplined than the Beach Boys' July 4 debacle. It was less ambitious, though, than the recent all-original solo shows by Beach Boy Carl Wilson. Love's backing quartet was well-schooled in Beach Boys formulas, which they sang and played with a welcome freshness. Love sang most of the songs from his new debut solo album, including oldies by Neil Sedaka, Phil Spector and Sammy Cahn as well as pianist Jim Struder's newly written Beach Boys imitations. Love did an eerily accurate imitation of John Lennon's vocal on "Imagine."
Still, the highlights were the mid-'60s songs written by the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson. No matter how predictable it has all become, Love's vocals on those tunes still sound as good as anything rock 'n' roll has ever produced.