AMERICA w/ Michael McDonald
The King Center / Melbourne, FL / December 11, 2011
Opening the show promptly at 7PM with their 1974 Top Ten hit, “Tin Man,” the guitar dueling, singer/songwriter combo of Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley delivered a high-energy sixty-minute set that was packed with non-stop hits and holiday classics.
You forget just how many great songs they have.
– Michael McDonald
Donned in designer jeans and fashion-forward regalia, the nearly sixty-year-old Bunnell and Beckley appeared younger than, and displayed more vitality than some performers half their age as they plowed through their plethora of such pop/rock staples as “Horse with No Name,” “Sister Golden Hair,” "Don't Cross the River," “Ventura Highway,” “Lonely People,” "Daisy Jane" and “You Can Do Magic.”
Still reeling from Paul Simon’s recent deadpan Orlando performance and the F-bomb shower I experienced at last summer's Tampa Mötley Crüe show, I found Bunnell and Beckley’s engaging and articulate in-between-song banter with the Melbourne audience to be a particularly refreshing change of pace.
Bunnell (left) and Beckley (center) with America as a trio during their 1970s
chartbusting hey day. Co-founder Dan Peek (right) left the group in 1977.
(Peek died in July 2011 of fibrinous pericarditis.)
Despite a few intermittent audio glitches, overall, the band sounded as good as they looked. And although it often can be jarring and actually serve as more of a distraction for the audience, America's use of onstage video imagery only enhanced their live presentation.
Additional kudos also must go out to Fountains of Wayne drummer, Brian Young, who reportedly “caught the red-eye” in order to fill-in at the last minute for the band’s longtime drummer, Willie Leacox, who sadly was absent from the concert due to a family emergency.
In addition to their string of hits, America
also performed several selections from their
seasonal 2002 record, Holiday Harmony.
With the holiday season upon us, America also incorporated a fistful of festive favorites into their set, including such original tunes as “A Christmas to Remember” and “California Christmas,” as well as standards including “Silent Night” and the rousing, show-ending Burl Ives classic, “Holly Jolly Christmas.”
Although headliner Michael McDonald certainly did deliver a quality show, it appeared to me once again that the best band doesn’t necessarily always play last!