I intentionally didn’t Google Westcoast before the show. I like the Beach Boys and I expected a tribute act looking vaguely like the Beach Boys and singing Beach Boys songs, hopefully quite well. That wasn’t exactly what I got… and when the first song began I was bitterly disappointed. Five blokes came out and sang; their only concession to looking remotely like the Beach Boys were their striped shirts. They were singing well, but were performing a dance routine, almost mime, more akin to The Four Seasons. This wasn’t the Beach Boys, who were a band who played instruments and sang in close harmony.
If I had Googled Westcoast and looked on their website I’d have seen their declaration: “We don’t like the word tribute. We celebrate the wonderful music of the Beach Boys in our own style”. And that they certainly did. By the time the first song was half way through I had completely adjusted my opinion. I was totally won over. The dance moves were actually hilariously entertaining, in fact quite captivating; the performers all had great voices, great timing and were immensely engaging. My only criticism was that the seemingly helium charged high register vocals of Liam Lakin were more akin to Frankie Valli than any of the Wilson brothers, but he still had a good voice. They really threw themselves into every song and routine and their enthusiasm was hypnotic.
The pace was fast and the songs flew by; all the favourites were there: California Girls, I Get Around, Surfin’ USA, and Good Vibrations. There was plenty of humour, both in the representation of the songs, a bit of banter (“We’re often associated with sun, sea and sensational women… just like Manchester”) and bizarrely watching the group harmonising whilst also shifting the sets around.
The audience loved Westcoast; it was an evening of pure entertainment. If you like the Beach Boys go and see this show; if you don’t like the Beach Boys go and see it anyway, because you should, and you will probably know more of their songs than you think.
Quite touchingly, after the final encore the five of them, Liam, Jonathan, Paul, Stuart and James, all raced to the foyer and stood at the doors saying goodbye and chatting. They caught me off guard or I would have told them how much I had enjoyed their show. It was fun, fun, fun all the way.
Reviewed on: 27th September 2015
Reviewed by: John Wood