America’s 50th anniversary has given Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell an adrenaline rush for this tour.
50 years is quite the benchmark for two American guys who went to school together in the 60s in London and in 1970 formed a band with their school-mate Dan Peek. (Peek left the band in 1977 and passed away in 2011). His contribution to the 50th Anniversary tour was marked with his song ‘Lonely People’, which was written as a response to The Beatles ‘Eleanor Rigby’, which America also featured in their set as a tribute to Beatles producer George Martin who was also their producer for much of the 70s and also produced the Peek-penned ‘Lonely People’.
There were a lot of nice tie-backs in this show including the three-in-a-row cluster of ‘Riverside’, ‘I Need You’ and ‘Here’ from their 1971 debut album ‘America’. To put America into context against Eagles at the time, in Australia, America’s debut album reached no 3 in Australia while Eagles debut album in 1972 failed to chart. Even comparing US figures ‘America’ by America reached no 1 in America. ‘Eagles’ by Eagles stalled at no 22. The contribution of America’s music to the music world should not go uncredited. This is a band that made it to the very top and 50 years later can still pull a packed audience on the other side of the planet.
America also pulls a younger audience than Eagles. Like Daryl Braithwaite with ‘The Horses’ America’s ‘Sister Golden Hair’ connected with female students 20 years ago who are now in their mid-30s. At an America show in Australia, you are as likely to find an audience pool in their late 30s and early 40s mixing it with fans in their 60s. America is a cross-generational band.
The impressive thing about the America setlist is the sheer volume of songs you know. In the opening eight songs of the setlist the hits were delivered one after the other. Same with the final seven. ‘Woman Tonight’, ‘Sandman’, Sister Golden Hair’, ‘Horse With No Name’ as well as ‘Only In Your Heart’ (featured on the first greatest hits album) and one everyone knows, Mamas and Papas ‘California Dreamin’.
With Ryland Steen on drums, Steve Fekete playing some incredible lead guitar, Richard Campbell on bass and Bill Worrell on keyboards and banjo, America the band was a powerful unit.
Beckley and Bunnell’s contribution to popular music is often understated. We are talking about a couple of guys who have always been great musicians and have never tried to be celebrities. Unlike their peers in Eagles or Crosby, Stills and Nash their tabloid value was minimal which has given them the luxury of being able to stay real. That shows in their shows. Over an almost two-hour innings, fans are treated to history and heritage minus the theatrics. America is a refreshingly organic band to see live.
Also note: The word “retirement” has never been used with this band so if you missed this round, catch them on the next one.
America Setlist Melbourne, 5 December 2019
Tin Man (from Holiday, 1974)
You Can Do Magic (from View From The Ground, 1982)
Don’t Cross the River (from Homecoming, 1972)
Daisy Jane (from Hearts, 1975)
Riverside (from America, 1971)
I Need You (from America, 1971)
Here (from America, 1971)
Ventura Highway (from Homecoming, 1972)
Driving (from Lost + Found, 2015)
Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles cover)
Cornwall Blank (from Homecoming, 1972)
Hollywood (from Holiday, 1974)
Survival (from Alibi, 1980)
The Border (from Your Move, 1983)
Greenhouse (from Hourglass, 1994)
Woman Tonight (from Hearts, 1975)
Only in Your Heart (from Homecoming, 1972)
California Dreamin’ (The Mamas & the Papas cover)
Lonely People (from Holiday, 1974)
Sandman (from America, 1971)
Sister Golden Hair (from Hearts, 1975)
A Horse With No Name (from America, 1971)
America are touring Australia for Bluesfest Touring.
America Tour Dates
Saturday 7th December 2019– Adelaide Entertainment Centre Theatre, Adelaide
Sunday 8th December 2019– Perth Concert Hall, Perth