Entertainment, Lifestyle

Review: America’s concert at Lynn Auditorium on Friday

Dewey Bunnell, right, and Gerry Beckley of the band America playing at Lynn Auditorium on Friday. (Owen O'Rourke)

LYNN — It’s easy to forget how many hits the band America has accumulated since 1970, the year three sons of Air Force brats started the adventurous folk-rock group in London.

Friday night at Lynn Auditorium before a near capacity house, nearly every one of those hits was played: “Sister Golden Hair,” “A Horse With No Name,” “I Need You,” “Ventura Highway,” “Woman Tonight.” All sounded great, with the harmonies of founders Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell (Dan Peek, the third original member, died in 2011) as wondrous as when the band’s songs dominated pop radio. They were aided by three stellar musicians: bassist/backing vocalist Richard Campbell, lead guitarist/banjoist/keyboardist Steve Fekete, and drummer Ryland Steen. This is a tight outfit, finely honed by performing some 100 shows a year.

Glad to say, after 49 years together, America is still the band of opportunity. And Bunnell and Beckley, who stood center stage, playing mostly acoustic guitars and trading lead vocals, are engaging frontmen.

This was basically the same show America performed last year at the Auditorium. Even some of the witty comments were recycled, but that didn’t diminish the pleasures one bit. The guys came out blazing with two of their biggest chart-toppers, “Tin Man” and “You Can Do Magic,” grabbing their fans from the get-go. “Don’t Cross the River” was a banjo-fueled country rock hoedown.

“Ventura Highway” and Beatles collaborator George Martin-produced hits “Sister Golden Hair” and “Lonely People” were terrific. Covers of “Eleanor Rigby” and the Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreaming” were energetic winners. Beckley moved to piano for a lovely “Only in Your Heart.”

Songs from the 1972 eponymous classic debut album brought back happy memories. The romantic “I Need You” had couples holding hands. The hard-rocking “Sandman,” an FM radio staple back in the day, benefited from a video made by Campbell that paired images from the Vietnam War and peace marches. The No. 1 smash “A Horse With No Name” became a glorious singalong and closed the show on a high note.

Lesser artists have been inducted Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; why not America? The 22-song, 90-minute set sped by, and most fans were home and in their jammies by 10 o’clock.

Barry Goudreau and Brian Maes, two Lynn guys who have performed together since the ’80s in numerous bands, opened with a quick six-sing set. Goudreau, who found fame as guitarist for Boston, dazzled on crowd-pleasing  versions of that band’s “Peace of Mind” and “Hitch a Ride.” Maes sang lead and played keyboards, revving the audience up for the headliners.

More Stories From Lynn