America, Judee Sill: Royal Festival Hall, London

America — simply so successful

EITHER BY accident or design America have come up with a dead simple formula that works incredibly well.

There’s nothing complicated: just melodic, rhythmic songs, harmonies and acoustic guitars. But by the end of Saturday’s concert at the London Festival Hall the audience could obviously have listened a whole lot longer.

Taking up the second half of the evening and introduced by Bob Harris, who was one of the first to pick up on the band, Dewey Bunnell, Dan Peek and Gerry Beckley strolled on stage in the familiar tennis shoes and jeans to break straight into ‘Riverside’, ‘Sandman’ and ‘I Need You’, all off the first album.

Each song was delivered impeccable, with guitars and harmonies mingling exactly. In fact, at times it felt like they were following a set routine almost too closely. The machine was too well oiled. But it was saved from becoming too slick by off-the-cuff remarks between numbers, so that an easy air of informality gradually developed.

Apart from Arlo Guthrie’s ‘Coming Into Los Angeles’ they stuck to their own material; ‘Children’ was particularly memorable, and ‘Horse With No Name’ still sounded remarkably fresh.

In the first half Judee Sill, a Californian with a slight touch of Joni Mitchell, accompanied herself on piano and guitar on a selection of fairly complicated songs.

She came over as rather a strange sort of girl, with a kind of woebegone expression and a habit of preluding her songs with a great torrent of explanation.

Many of her songs are difficult to follow on first hearing, but ‘Jesus The Cross Maker’ and ‘Kiss’ both hit home first time. 

© James JohnsonNew Musical Express, 25 March 1972

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