Beach Boys play Duluth, 1984

The Beach Boys have made several stops in the Northland over the years, but the performance that made the biggest waves in the News Tribune archives was their concert at Wade Stadium on July 8, 1984. Here’s coverage from the next day’s News-Tribune:

Lead guitar player Carl Wilson (left) and lead singer Mike Love of the Beach Boys play one of the group’s many hits during a concert at Wade Stadium on July 8, 1984. (John Rott / News-Tribune)

Review: Beach Boys’ beloved oldies bring good vibrations to Wade Stadium

By Bob Ashenmacher, News-Tribune

Solid cloud cover and a chilly wind kept a cool lid on the first three hours of the Beach Boys’ Wade Stadium concert on Sunday. This despite a fine set by local country-rockers Dakota Crossing and a nearly perfect 80 minutes by early 70s hitmakers Three Dog Night.

Luck. As the stars took the stage, the ceiling evaporated and a warm evening sun shone brightly. The crowd of 5,860 appreciated nature’s smile and enjoyed every moment of the band’s 70-minute set.

There’s gray in the sideburns of lead singer Mike Love these days and in the beard of Carl Wilson, the only Wilson brother present from among the original three. (Drummer Dennis died last year, and songwriter and arranger Brian was nowhere to be seen, despite the tantalizing presence onstage of a cream-colored baby grand piano.

There were wobbly strains among the harmonies. And it’s difficult for some of us to be comfortable with the band presenting itself as merely an oldies act – there’s no emphasis on new material, nor any interpretation put into the old stuff. Finally, it’s painful to the point of grotesque to hear “Good Vibrations” made into a singalong. Like a bad movie.

Kevin Pryor and Louella Foley hug as the Beach Boys perform at Wade Stadium on July 8, 1984. (John Rott / News-Tribune)

All that said, it was a good oldies show. The voices of Love, Wilson, rhythm guitarist Al Jardine and longtime fill-in keyboards player Bruce Johnston were in respectable shape.

Six backing musicians played in addition to Johnston’s keyboards and Wilson and Jardine’s guitars. That took away the nimble leanness of the group’s earliest hits, among them “Little Deuce Coupe” and “I Get Around.”

Wilson kept a few licks of the wonderful old “surf” style of lead guitar in, sounding especially good on a Gibson 12-string electric during “Dance Dance Dance.” Jardine’s rendition of “Help Me Rhonda” had girls who weren’t born when the song was released doing The Swim on the shoulders of grinning-grimacing boys. Other highlights include Wilson’s vocal on the lovely “God Only Knows” and a solid “California Girls.” “Sloop John B” sounded good but too fast, “Wendy” flat and sluggish.

I enjoyed myself, as did everyone else down in the very front. Once the set began, I missed absent Brian Wilson only once, during the sweet beginning of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” I wish he could have seen all of our smiles.

They closed with a surf medley and encored with “Good Vibrations,” “Barbara Ann” and “Fun Fun Fun,” leaving the crowd dancing in the dust of the infield.

Beach Boys lead singer Mike Love performs at Wade Stadium on July 8, 1984. (John Rott / News-Tribune)

By the way, the Beach Boys announced on stage that they and their entourage would play Three Dog Night and its crew in a charity softball game at 7 p.m. today at Wade Stadium.

As mentioned, the warm-up acts were fine. Three Dog Night sang all its hits in tight, faithful-to-the-record arrangements. All three members were in good vocal shape and the band was lively.

The Twin Ports’ Dakota Crossing opened with a set that did credit to the label country rock. Their four-part harmonies on a medley of “Rockytop” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” matched anything by the headliners. Best of all, they’re in their early 20s. Practically kids, in terms of professional careers.

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Here’s a photo from the next day’s charity softball game:

Beach Boys crew member Darryl Morrison (left) gives the group’s Al Jardine a neck rub to loosen up his muscles between innings of a charity softball game in Duluth on Jul 9, 1984. Jardine played second base. (Bob King / News-Tribune)

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The Beach Boys also played in Duluth back in August 1966 as part of the festivities surrounding the opening of the Duluth Arena-Auditorium (now the DECC). They were back in July 1980 at the Arena, then played at Wade in 1984, and returned in 1995 for a concert at Connors Pointe Festival Park in Superior.

That 1995 concert originally was scheduled for July 2 but was washed out by rain; they came back for a show on August 9, with Mark Rubin – now St. Louis County attorney – as the opening act.

Those are all the local Beach Boys shows I can find in the archives – am I missing any? If so, or if you have any memories to share about these concerts, post a comment.

4 thoughts on “Beach Boys play Duluth, 1984

  1. Did the Beachboys ever play at the old Curling Club on London Road would have been early/mid 60′s as I seem to remember that and there was a dance floor up close to the band.

  2. The BBs played Duluth on their first midwest tour in May 1963-at the Armory. They were also there in July 1968 at the Arena with Gary Puckett and the Union Gap

    • Yes, they did play Duluth in ’63. One of my classmates worked as a car hop at the old A&W drive in next to the zoo.
      The Boys pulled in there in two Corvettes. They placed an order, and told her that they were The Beach Boys.
      She laughed at them and replied, “Yup, and I’m the queen of Egypt.”
      She found out later that they WERE the Beach Boys. I think she is still crying to this day :)

  3. I ended up with one of the concert hats from Mike Love I believe. They took them off and handed them out and I still have it.

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