It is hard to imagine many musical groups that can say they have had a career spanning 50 years, still able to draw a decent crowd and tour the world regularly. America the band did exactly this on a Saturday night at The Star Gold Coast.
Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell (alongside the late Dan Peek) first met and started performing in a London school some five decades ago and have been performing to enthusiastic crowds ever since. Kick-starting the night with classic hits ‘Miniature’ and ‘Tin Man’ (from their first album ‘America’) it was clear the older audience was in for a trip down memory lane. From the very first song it was obvious the fan base was still there to warrant the 100+ shows that America still performs each year. With a solid fan base and a string of hits over their career, tonight was one for the older generation that was still young at heart. There were audience members who had bought along their LP records in the hope of getting them signed by the founding members of the band. The history of America the band was strongly reinforced by the many visual videos, showing the band in their early days as a backdrop to the show. These memories were constant throughout the 90 minute show and its 22 song setlist.
Midway through the set ‘Survival’ was played and on its completion, Gerry joked with the crowd that, “Well that song was a huge hit in Italy, number one in fact, here however you didn’t like it as much and it wasn’t that popular”. The crowd laughed to which an audience member behind us loudly yelled out, “It was a number one song in my house”. This wasn’t the only example of crowd participation with a lady two rows in front of us dancing from start to finish of the set.
After performing ‘Border’ Dewey told the crowd, “Every year we dredge up an obscure song from an obscure album and after 50 years we have a lot to go back on”. Then the band started to play ‘Greenhouse’ (off the album 1994 ‘Hourglass’) and despite being a not as well known song, there were many in the audience who sang along word for word. It was clear this band were typical old school musicians with influences from The Who, Cat Stevens, Rod Stewart, The Beach Boys, Jimmy Hendrix and more. The audiences were told stories about how they had the pleasure of witnessing all these acts live early in their career. This was around London in the late 60s when they were still in school and they used to catch the trains into the city to experience these iconic shows as teenagers. These artists played a huge influence and they were fortunate enough to even open for some of them as they were starting out in the 1970s.
The entire night was a mix of familiar acoustic ballads and high energy rock songs with many guitar solos performed, not only by Gerry and Dewey, the but also their equally talented backing band members Steve Feckley and Rich Campbell. After a standing ovation, the band exited to the side of stage only to return for the encore and declare, “I think we nearly left a song off the list”. They finished the night with a crowd favourite, ‘Horse With No Name’ where many people left their seats and walked towards the front of the stage. Tonight was celebrating the 50 year anniversary of the band. With 16 albums, 47 singles and 2 billboard number ones it is very clear retirement is far from Gerry and Dewey mind. “We will still tour as long as you buy the tickets” and with that in mind, it is clear America will be touring for many years to come yet.