By Barry Gilbert
Of the Post-Dispatch

June 6, 2000

A spring thunderstorm drove a wave of nostalgia ashore at Riverport Amphitheatre on Sunday night, as the Beach Boys and ex-Monkee Davy Jones celebrated their very different versions of the '60s.

The two acts ran through generous helpings of their hits before a large and largely wet crowd, many of them within the brackets of Jones' 50 years and Beach Boys skipper Mike Love's 59.

The Beach Boys have been an oldies band for years now, and Love is the only founding member left since the death of guitarist Carl Wilson in 1998 and the defection of guitarist Al Jardine later that year. Keyboard player Bruce Johnston, a Beach Boy since 1965, is also still in the band.

Their last studio album, "Summer in Paradise," was released in 1992, and the newest song in the show was "Kokomo," the band's biggest hit, from 1989. Every other number in the 32-song, one-hour 45-minute show, with the exception of several covers, came from the glory years - the early '60s through the mid-'70s. This is the music that celebrated the so-called California lifestyle of sun, sand, surf, cars and girls, and fueled the fantasies of landlocked Midwestern and snowbound Eastern teenagers.

The band is now eight men strong, six of whom sing, and features players whose Beach Boys service ranges from a couple of years to as much as 32 years. But Love and Johnston still must contend with their ghosts, and they do it with grace.

Johnston gamely sang the lead so exquisitely performed by Carl Wilson on "God Only Knows;" bassist Chris Farmer and guitarist Phil Bardowell divvied up most of the other parts sung by Jardine, Carl Wilson and the late drummer Dennis Wilson; and a Briton, guitarist Adrian Baker, was eerily accurate on the soaring falsetto parts of co-founder Brian Wilson, whose melodies and harmonies are still thrilling.

So, enough carping about age and who's not in the band. A couple of thousand Beach Boy concertgoers can't be wrong. They applied the Mike Love test; they closed their eyes, and it sounded like the Beach Boys. In fact, they sounded better in some cases than the real band had at times over the past 20 years.

Opening with "California Girls," they slammed through "Do It Again," "Catch a Wave" and others. An odd doo-wop trilogy, some psychedelia and material from the great 1966 album "Pet Sounds" followed, including the hit singles "Sloop John B" and "Wouldn't It Be Nice."

While the Beach Boys' version of the '60s took on at least a veneer of reality - some kids really did cut school to drive their hot rods to the beach - Davy Jones' '60s comes from Hollywood, the place that produced the Monkees. It's not an accident that they were dubbed the Prefab Four.

A child actor, singer and dancer in his native England before being chosen a Monkee, Jones shticked his way through a set that included "I'm a Believer," "Daydream Believer" and others and performed a medley of songs from the Broadway hit "Oliver," in which he appeared in 1962, pre-Monkees.

Jones was energetic, earnest and weirdly charming. But talk about nostalgia: With lines like "we've had lots of requests tonight but we're gonna sing anyway," the jokes were even older than the songs.