LIVE: America @ The Egg, 11/29/14
Review by Greg Haymes
“These are not oldies,” Gerry Beckley insisted midway through America’s recent sold-out concert at The Egg’s Hart Theatre. “These are classic rock. There’s a difference… but we don’t know what it is.”
Few would think to group America in with the usual bunch of classic rock radio stalwarts. Despite their impressive string of ’70s hits, America were never musical heavyweights, even in their heyday. They were more like, well, let’s say, Crosby, Stills & Nash-lite.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that…
Their Egg concert was part of the band’s 44th anniversary tour, and their music is still an instantly recognizable cultural touchstone. Consider that within the past year, America’s breakthrough hit (and Saturday’s obligatory encore), “A Horse With No Name,” was the basis for “A Place with No Name” on Michael Jackkson’s much-hyped posthumous album, “Xscape,” in addition to being prominently featured in the much-heralded movie “American Hustle.”
Founding members Beckley and his cohort Dewey Bunnell have kept America rolling along all these years, and those trademark harmonies remained largely intact at The Egg, from the opening volley of “Tin Man” and “You Can Do Magic” straight through to the show-closing “Sister Golden Hair.” Instrumental solos were kept to a minimum. In fact, it wasn’t until the eighth song of the night, “Here,” that recent recruit Bill Worrell stepped up to take the first guitar solo of the night.
“That was dangerously close to jamming,” Beckley joked after after the rockin’ “Hollywood,” and the band did indeed kick out the jams on “Sandman” later in the show, accompanied by photos and videos of tumultuous ’60s projected on the big screen behind the band. But vocal harmonies were always America’s strong suit, and they nailed ’em on the Bee Gees-ish “I Need You” and the Poco-esque “Riverside.”
They also dropped in Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock” and the Gin Blossoms’ “Til I Hear It From You” (a couple of selections from their most recent album, 2011’s all-covers “Back Pages”), as well as a cover of the Mamas & the Papas’ “California Dreaming.”
All in all, there was nothing ground-breaking about America’s Saturday night concert, but it was a surprisingly satisfying musical journey down memory lane.
AMERICA SET LIST
You Can Do Magic
Don’t Cross the River
I Need You
Woodstock (Joni Mitchell)
Til I Hear It from You (Gin Blossoms)
Only in Your Heart
California Dreaming (the Mamas & the Papas)
Sister Golden Hair
A Horse With No Name