Mix the Beach Boys’ sun and fun songs from the California coast and the blues rock of Surrey-born guitarist Jeff Beck on one stage, and the result could make for a perfect storm or a complete washout.
Beck, 69, hasn’t figured out which, yet. “It’s a mystery to me is all I can tell you,” he said from England, laughing while on a break from rehearsals recently for his co-headlining tour with Beach Boys singer-songwriter Brian Wilson. Co-founding Beach Boy Al Jardine will also perform on the tour, which opens Friday at Hard Rock Live near Hollywood.
“There’ll be some good times. Brian is Brian and will have a stack of hits people will want to hear. My role is to find my footing in Brian’s songs and my new material in the show,” Beck said.
Wilson, 71, and Beck plan to open the show together with both of their bands to perform such familiar hits as California Girls and Little Deuce Coup. Wilson takes a set and then Beck opens the second half of the show with music from landmark blues-rock albums Truth and Blow by Blow while the finale brings everyone together for a sprint through more classics and Beck’s Yardbirds material.
“I’ll be doing a lot of mellow stuff and Jeff Beck, that great guitar player, will basically rock a little bit,” Wilson said from Ocean Way recording studio in Hollywood where he and Jardine, 71, are working on tracks for a collaborative album between Wilson and Beck.
Paul McCartney once called God Only Knows his favorite Wilson song. But California Girls has always remained Wilson’s favorite of his compositions. “More than ever, it never gets old with me. Something about the way Mike sings it and the lyrics and everything,” he said.
Wilson and Jardine won’t discuss their split from the Beach Boys after last year’s 50th anniversary tour and album — “No comment,” Wilson said abruptly — but the two discuss why they have stayed together as musical partners after Beach Boy Mike Love took a version of the band back on the road. Early Beach Boy David Marks is also performing on the Wilson/Beck tour.
“This incarnation of the music is now simply from a much better band,” Jardine said. “It’s a better sound than we had before, and we are enjoying that part. We have this musicianship and camaraderie with the guys, and that’s why Brian enjoys being in that incarnation.”
Wilson says of Jardine — whose recent first solo album, Postcards From California, tops anything the Beach Boys have recorded in decades — “Al is a fast learner. He learns his parts very fast and is one of our better singers in the group.”
Beck, meanwhile, yearns to escape rainy England. “It’s great to be going back to Florida,” he said. “Miami has always been a good stronghold for me so I’m looking forward to coming down and having a good time.”
Brian Wilson & Jeff Beck perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Hard Rock Live, 1 Seminole Way, near Hollywood. Tickets $49-$84. Information: 954-797-5531. Follow @HowardCohen on Twitter.