Sunday, May 20, 2012

Live and Up Close

Last night, my husband took me to see The Turtles and The Grass Roots perform at the "Live and Up Close" Theater in Sycuan Casino out in El Cajon (East San Diego County) and it was a rockin' good time! It may be the fact that I don't go to concerts enough but I couldn't believe how incredibly loud it was! The Turtles Featuring Flo and Eddie were the headlining act, so The Grass Roots opened the concert (each group played about an hour), and boy did they give us a show! Although original lead singer Rob Grill (pictured playing bass on the left) sadly passed away last year, Mark Dawson did a fantastic job taking over lead vocals and bass duties, and the whole group was solid. As soon as they opened with "I'd Wait a Million Years," the audience moved to the edge of their seats for the rest of the concert (if not jumping up and groovin'), impressed by this wall of sound full of '60s nostalgia. The band covered all of their hits including "Sooner or Later," "Two Divided By Love," "Heaven Knows," "Temptation Eyes," "Where Were You When I Needed You," and "Let's Live for Today," at which point they gave a heartfelt salute and thank-you to our veterans. They also added in a couple of covers that went well with their set, such as "Don't Pull Your Love" (originally by Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds) and Edison Lighthouse's "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)." When the band acted like they were finished, I started thinking "Wait, they have to do "Midnight Confessions!" and thankfully, they saved that classic as their encore. Since my pictures from the concert stink, here's a photo of the current Grass Roots members:
 And since this wouldn't be The '60s Beat without some music, here are the original Grass Roots performing "Heaven Knows" on the short-lived series "Music Scene" in 1969 (and Rob Grill is looking mighty fine).

Be sure to check out past posts featuring other great tunes by The Grass Roots here.

 So over the last five decades, there have been several different personnel lineups for The Turtles, however, original members Howard Kaylan (lead singer) and Mark Volman (backing vocals/funny sideman) have always remained consistent. After The Turtles dissolved in 1970, some serious lawsuits took place with their record label, and for several years, they were prevented from using The Turtles name, as well their real names, in a musical context. Thus, Volman and Kaylan became Flo (aka "Phlorescent Leech") & Eddie. As you may have noticed these guys' antics in videos from the '60s, they are quite a comedic musical duo, and although their voices aren't as top-notch as they used to be, last night's show proved to be an entertaining mix of comedy and music. After an over-the-top orchestral introduction, Flo & Eddie entered the stage wearing Lady Gaga wigs as one of her songs played and was cut short with Kaylan ("Eddie") shouting, "What have they done to our music, man? Real music used to sound like this!" and the group began with their 1967 hit "She'd Rather Be With Me." The set continued with other Turtles hits including "You Baby," "It Ain't Me, Babe" (written by Bob Dylan), "She's My Girl," "You Showed Me," and "Elenore," mixed with lesser known but interesting Flo & Eddie material. The audience may have been expecting more familiar Turtles tunes, but I totally get why they branched out and wanted to show the crowd some of the other things they've done in their career. Actually, the duo has quite a fascinating history, joining Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention in 1970, and going on to lend their trademark harmonies in recordings for several other artists including T. Rex ("Get It On [Bang a Gong]"), John Lennon, Alice Cooper, Bruce Springsteen, Duran Duran, The Ramones, and many more. These guys have been best friends and musical partners for 50 years, so it only makes sense to showcase their extensive career and not just those five years when The Turtles were at their peak in the '60s. There was always a touching moment when the band sang a tribute for the late Davy Jones of The Monkees who was their dear friend, and they performed the first verse and chorus of  "Daydream Believer." Backed by an excellent four-man band, the exciting night ended with their most popular hit "Happy Together" from 1967 (previously featured here). And here are those crazy guys now (and yes, Flo managed to retain that wild 'fro).   

And of course, we'll conclude with The Turtles performing their 1968 hit, "Elenore." Written by all the band members at the time, this song was intended to be a parody of their "happy-go-lucky"-type tunes but to their surprise, it reached #6 on the US charts.

If you're interested in hearing these groups, be sure to check out the Happy Together Tour taking place this summer (here's the schedule). The Buckinghams, Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, and Micky Dolenz of The Monkees will be joining The Turtles and The Grass Roots, performing all their top hits.


  1. The studio recording of the Byrds "Mr. Tambourine Man”, seems to me, is a microcosm of what the majority of the 60s-70s classics really were about: that the record companies didn't trust the majority of actual band members to be good enough to lay down what was needed for a hit (not saying in every case however)...hence the tacit hiring of session players to record what is known as the official release of the songs we cone to love.

    Since I've learned of the Wrecking Crew's stepping in for band members in the "official" song recordings of what we know to be the sound of most of the classic the quintessential hits, I have a hard time believing that the actual band members playing can sound as good as who stepped in for them in the recording studio. Can somebody actually say the real band playing members playing live compare to the what Carol Kaye, Hal Baine, Larry Knetchel, etc. put down in the recording studio? I didn't go to many live concerts myself to know, but what do you think?

    1. Thanks so much for your comment! I'm finally replying, a whole year and a half late! But I think you're right; there's no way these bands could recreate the Wrecking Crew sound live in concert. It may not have really mattered, especially at concerts full of screaming girls. The fans were just happy to hear their voices and see them in person. Funny how the production has completed shifted at today's reunion/retro concerts. There are plenty of backing musicians and instruments (quality keyboards filling in brass/string parts) with the ability to recreate those studio sounds quite well in a live setting, however, it's the vocals that have aged and are sometimes disappointing (trying not to point fingers at any particular bands featured in the above post, ahem). Anyway, thanks for reading!