America are celebrating their 50th anniversary as a band by doing what they do best: going on tour. Averaging around 100 shows every year since they started, America are well-deserving of the success they have found with their many hits throughout a long career, boasting releases every decade since the 1970s. Perth was the last stop on their Australian and New Zealand tour.
Original members Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell teamed up with some great talent to complete the America line up for this show. A former member of Reel Big Fish in Rylan David-Burton Steen on drums, Rich Campbell on Bass, and Steve Fekete wowing everyone with his lead guitar skills, flitted between keyboard, guitar, banjo throughout the night. This show was one for the fans, where all the hits would be played. It was well executed, building with momentum the longer it went.
It was an eager and orderly crowd that filled the Perth Concert Hall and it was great to see a near full house for supporting artist, multi-instrumentalist Mitch King. Originally from Queensland, King has been supporting America around the country. He opened the night with swampy, dirty blues, belted out through his acoustic, kick drum, foot tambourine and harmonica; he nails it as a one man band. His set was short but sweet mixed with some softer sounds, but Mitch ended on another blues ripper that got the crowd warmed up and ready for the main event.
Not messing around, America launched straight into the 1974 hit Tin Man and it was hard not to bop along to their soft rock, pop sounds. They clearly mastered the formula for writing those perfect hits throughout their career and it was a joy to see them performing this live on stage. Eighties classic Magic came next and the harmonies of Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell that give America their unique sound filled the Concert Hall. The hits kept coming with more duelling acoustics and high energy on stage with epic solos from bass player Rich Campbell and guitarist Steve Fekete. They slowed down for the gentler I Need You, clearly a crowd favourite, and gave the audience what they wanted with Ventura Highway, from second album Homecoming.
Painting a picture to the audience throughout the show, Gerry and Dewey told their story; how they started as teenagers, the sons of US Air Force personnel that found themselves in London in the swinging 60s. They witnessed greats such as Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, Rod Stewart and the Faces and they soon found themselves opening for these acts, working with Beatles producer George Martin not long after. Paying homage to some of their inspirations, America performed a cover of Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles to mark their time with George Martin, and the Mamas and the Papas’ California Dreaming, a song they had been playing since they started jamming together. Lonely People was dedicated to and written by Dan Peek for the 1974 album Holiday, before he departed the band in 1977.
It was then time to amp things up and with the end of the show in sight, it was time to pull out the big ones. Sandman was a joy to see played live but Sister Golden Hair finally got some of the audience out of their seats to dance. Leaving the stage the band were not going to play their final song without a call for an encore. So finally, A Horse with No Name happened and marked the end of their tour. It was definitely worth witnessing, with an amazing aura of happiness filling the hall. America deserved their standing ovation at the end of the night and it looks like they are not going to stop playing anytime soon.
Photos by Linda Dunjey