AMERICA IS BEAUTIFUL
at the bergenPAC in New Jersey
A SoundPress.net Feature Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

America presented a fine set of history and hits at the bergenPAC in Englewood, New Jersey on October 15, 2014 with an evening of their beautiful music amped-up and bolstered in the live setting by their powerful five-piece band.

America Is Beautiful at the BergenPAC in New Jersey
America's founding fathers Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell on stage at the bergenPAC in New Jersey.

Born in 1970, America took the world by storm with their accessible acoustic rock format paired with appealing harmonies. The band enjoyed much success in the 70's and they recorded a number of albums with the legendary George Martin (The Beatles). In the 80's, America collaborated with other artists to craft new sounds that reflected the times. As the group moved into the next millennium, they worked on new material, retrospectives, side projects and touring. Today, America is a popular live act who still tours regularly often returning to venues such as the bergenPAC.

America's equipment set up was straight-forward with the drum riser in the middle and two keyboards flanking each side of the stage. Over the drum kit was a screen in which film clips of America were shown as the quintet strolled out greeted by cheers. They opened with "Tin Man", which paired acoustic guitars with keys melding into America's signature multi-part harmonies. Next was a magical "You Can Do Magic" with an electric guitar enhancing the energy of the song.

"Good to be back," declared America as they move into the country flavored "Don't Cross the River" spiked with a banjo and layered vocals. They stated that they have been doing this for 44 years before moving into a history lesson of their music. "Three Roses" from their first record was animated with three acoustic guitars setting the mood. It was followed by the reflective "I Need You". Moving into America's second LP they presented a vibrant "Ventura Highway".

They mentioned their cover album Back Pages released in 2011 as a tribute to the songs that they wished they had written including Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock". Their arrangement was up-beat utilizing an electric guitar with effects that rocked. One of the things that surprised us was that America often rocked, it was not all pretty acoustic melodies but tunes with some might to them also. Drums and bass were prominent in many of the mixes while still keeping true to the format of the original tracks. Most of the songs were short and sweet although "Hollywood" almost evolved into a jam.

During the evening founding members & multi-instrumentalists Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley acknowledged their crew, along with the folks at the bergenPAC. They also introduced the band featuring Bill Worrell and Richard Campbell who are real assets to America as both are singers who were able to switch from keyboards and other instruments as needed. Ryland Steen on drums and percussion was strong all night.

"Foolin" was a deep track that also rocked. "Green Monkey" showcased three edgy electric guitars along with a shout-out to Joe Walsh who played the lead on the 1973 album that this song first appeared. They recalled graduating from high school in London in the late 60's exposed to so much great music, which flowed into a heavyish version of "California Dreamin'" by the Mama & Papas.

America returned to their own singles with a lively "Lonely People", a solid "Sandman" and a spirited "Sister Golden Hair" to close their set on a triple play of crowd pleasers. America quickly returned to the stage for their encore stating "we forgot one" as they forged into the classic "A Horse With No Name". America presented a fine often rocking show filled with their hits and history for the New Jersey faithful.

The bergenPAC located in the heart of Englewood continues to host a diverse range of artists such as America. Upcoming events at the theater include Bill Cosby, Completely Unchained, La Boheme, Vienna's Boy Choir, Glimmer Twins, Jane Monheit, The Beach Boys, NJ Symphony Orchestra and The Tubes.

America Is Beautiful at the BergenPAC in New Jersey

Related Links: For more information on AMERICA and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- America | bergenpac.org

(Originally Published on October 16, 2014)

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