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America ‘unites’ Aquino, Corona

/ 02:00 AM October 18, 2012

TAMED AUDIENCE.  America, the 42-year-old folk rock group, performed Wednesday night at the jam-packed Smart Araneta Coliseum. Their finale, “A Horse With No Name,” was among the most applauded numbers though crowd could have loosened up a bit, stood up to dance and sing with the band. Video by Totel V. de Jesus/INQUIRER.net

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MANILA, Philippines—For more than two cheerful hours on Wednesday night, President Benigno Aquino III and a few of his Cabinet members were one with impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona and wife Cristina.

They were all sighted at the Smart Araneta Coliseum one-night-only concert of veteran American folk rock group named, well, America.

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Why they’re there is pretty obvious.

The 64-year-old former chief magistrate was in his early 20s when America conquered the international music scene in the first quarter of the 1970s, about the same time the young Aquino was about to enter his teenage years.

The 52-year-old bachelor President was seen without a date though he was comfortably seated at the lower box with Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares while the Corona couple were at the 4th row middle part near the stage.

America had the Hawaiian soft rock group Kalapana as front act, who performed about seven songs. Naturally the most applauded of Kalapana’s very short set were “Night Bird” and their major hit, “The Hurt”.

The 42-year-old America, composed of original members Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell, started their set with, curiously, two major hits they released nearly a decade apart, “Tin Man” (early 1970s) and “You Can Do Magic” (1982).

The momentum could have been maintained but they followed them up with a lesser hit, “Don’t Cross The River.”

“We’re happy to be back here again in the Philippines. We’ve been performing here for decades,” Beckley blurted out somewhere in the middle of their first five songs.

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He said they’ve been everywhere, from Ecuador to the Great Wall of China. Just to give the audience an idea how they continue to love what they’re doing, Beckly said, “We formed the band when we were in our teens, just fresh from high school in the early ‘70s. Now after 42 years we’re still around, doing 100 shows every year, all over the world.”

Without a break, they enthralled the audience with more hits that Filipinos from Babuyan Channel to Sabah Islands like to drunkenly sing in street-corner videoke bars; “Ventura Highway,” “Inspector Mills,” “Sandman,” “Sister Golden Hair’” “Lonely People” and “I Need You.”

AMERICA (from left): Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley. Photo from official america homepage

They also did a cover of the 1960s folk rock hit “California Dreamin’” from the Mamas & The Papas, Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock” and the 1990s soft-grunge ballad, Gin Blossoms’ “Till I Hear It From You.”

The songs are included in their latest album, “Backpages,” released middle of 2011. The album also has their version of Bob Dylan’s “My Back Pages,” New Radicals’ “Someday We’ll Know,” and Simon and Garfunkel’s, uh, “America”, among others.

“These are some of the songs we wish we could have written,” Bunnell explained.

America did about nearly 20 songs, including their double-barrelled encore “All My Life” and “A Horse With No Name,” to which the crowd sang in unison.

Despite the applause and the videoke-like accompaniment with the popular titles, there were only a handful of fans who were brave, or better yet, energetic enough to stand up, sing and dance. Many were just contented clapping and singing in their seats, as if they were watching a late Sunday night TV special.

But America gave all they got and Corona was seen nodding repeatedly to almost all of their songs.

Catch America with Kalapana on October 19 at the Waterfront Cebu Hotel and on October 21 at the University of Baguio.

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TAGS: America, Benigno Aquino III, Renato Corona, Smart Araneta Coliseum
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