An American group celebrates the evening of premieres at Loeb Stadium in Lafayette

LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Last Thursday night saw the start of a new era for Loeb Stadium, as classic rock band America became the first major band to perform at the brand new Lafayette Concert Hall.

Almost every seat in the stadium was full, and when America took the stage, the stadium cheered enthusiastically.

America matched the energy of the crowd as they opened the show with an electrifying rendition of “Tin Man” and “You Can Do Magic.”

“It’s great to see you all here,” said Dewey Bunnell, one of America’s original members, after finishing their opening songs. “Thank you for supporting live music. It’s great to be back on stage.”

Bunnell went on to explain how the band originally planned to do a 50th anniversary to celebrate the band’s formation, but due to COVID-19, they had to scrap that idea.

“This tour was originally supposed to be the 50th anniversary of the band’s formation – from 1970 to 2020. But something called COVID got in the way. So now we’re two years later, now we’re just celebrating the debut album,” Bunnell said.

The band’s current line-up consisted of the two original members, Gerry Beckley and Bunnell, along with new members, bassist Richard Campbell, drummer Ryland Steen and guitarist Steve Fekete.

America went on to play several classic songs from their discography, such as “Sister Golden Hair”, “Driving”, “Eleanor Rigby”, “Hollywood”, and “Ventura Highway”, to name a few.

Throughout the show, Beckley and Bunnell would share stories from their past with the audience, highlighting some of the incredible experiences throughout their 50-year career.

“Within a year, we were opening for almost all of these groups. We opened for The Who, we opened for Elton, Rod Stewart and the Faces, Traffic. We opened for Pink Floyd. We were 18 and we sat on stools and we did an acoustic set for about 30 minutes and the crowd died down,” Gerry Beckley said.

“And then Pink Floyd came out with a 90-piece orchestra and choir and performed the entire ‘Atom Heart Mother’ album. But if you closed your eyes… very similar, very similar show. According to this we could remember, virtually identical, or at least in our minds he was.

Hundreds of people gathered at Loeb Stadium on June 30, 2022 to watch classic rock band America usher in a new era for the stadium as Lafayette's new music venue.

As the night drew to a close, America played their signature song, “A Horse with No Name,” as their encore performance. The moment the audience heard that first chord, people jumped out of their seats and started dancing again like it was 1972.

If there had been easier access to the ballpark, people would most likely have run onto the pitch and danced to the last song of the night.

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America wasn’t the only group to make history on June 30. Although they were the first band to headline a show at Loeb Stadium, the Miller Band had the honor of bringing home two historic aspects of the show.

Not only were they the first opening band to perform at Loeb Stadium, they were also the first Lafayette natives to perform at the stadium.

The band consisted of LD Miller, who was on guitar, harmonica and keyboard, Cole Miller on percussion, Ryan Fletcher on flute and vocals, Max Allen on guitar and Scott Pazera on bass.

The Millers played a 30-minute opening set for America, and throughout their performance, it was common to see heads bobbing in time to the music.

Many in the audience knew the Millers from an appearance on “America’s Got Talent,” but for others, this concert was the first they’d ever heard of the Lafayette natives, and they weren’t. disappointed.

“I really liked their music. I might check them out after that,” a viewer told the Journal & Courier.

Hundreds of people gathered at Loeb Stadium on June 30, 2022 to watch classic rock band America usher in a new era for the stadium as Lafayette's new music venue.

For the Millers, the opportunity to attend the first performance at Loeb Stadium was something they deeply appreciated.

“It was an incredible honor for us to be able to open for America…We love Lafayette, it’s our home,” LD Miller said.

“When we’re up there on stage and playing our music after all these years of doing everything we’ve done, it’s very, very good.”

“You see all these familiar faces in the crowd. And you know you want to make them proud,” Fletcher added.

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Although there were some complaints about the location of the stage, particularly how far apart the people seated in the stands were, for the most part people seemed to enjoy the very first performance at Loeb Stadium.

“It was really well organized and smooth for that first time. They nailed it perfectly,” said Abby Lillpop.

“It was a really awesome event, and I can’t wait to see the series they’re planning to do next summer.”

The next scheduled performance at Loeb Stadium is country star Justin Moore, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on September 2. For more information regarding tickets for this event, you can visit longpac.org or call the box office at 765-742-5664.

Noe Padilla is a journalist at Journal & Courier. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at 1NoePadilla.

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