They were never in the pantheon of the ‘70s acoustic-based cavalcade of California golden-throated sensitive souls like Crosby, Stills and Nash, Jackson Browne and the Eagles, but America always had a pleasant charm about them.
And it hasn’t diminished much in the 48 years since Gerry Buckley and Dewey Bunnell started playing together.
Tuesday night’s sold-out greatest hits show at the Caesarea Amphitheater (there’s another one tonight with tickets still available) was as crowd-pleasing and enjoyable as a nostalgia-seeking fan could hope for. Buckley and Bunnell were in fine form vocally and in their matching black acoustic guitars as they plowed through a more-or-less chronological overview of their most well-known songs.
Backed by a tight, three-piece band, the duo toggled between the lilting melodies and harmonies of “Ventura Highway” and “I Need You,” and their hearty attempts at rocking out on “Sandman” and “Greenhouse.”
They got their early ‘80s pop hit “You Can Do Magic” out of the way early and had the sense to keep “Muskrat Love” home in the stables, leaving more time for selections from their standout 1971 self-titled debut and a smattering of well-placed covers (“California Dreaming” and a questionably conceived but well-executed “Eleanor Rigby.”)
The crowd, mostly well into their 40s, 50s and beyond, provided its most enthusiastic reaction to the bouncy “Sister Golden Hair” which closed the 90-minute show. The encore of their most famous tune, “A Horse with No Name” was in some ways anticlimatic.
But Buckley and Bunnell, both 66, proved to be consummate entertainers and elicited cheers when they talked about being in Israel for the first time and vowing to continue touring for as long as people will come out and see them. By evidence of their show in Caesarea, the people will keep coming because the hits are there and they sound as good as they ever did.
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