Old rockers turn it on at Queenstown

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Three veteran rock bands had a capacity crowd of 15,000 buzzing at a sun-drenched Gibbston Valley Station yesterday (Sunday).

The last gig of the New Zealand Summer Winery Series featured US folk rock band America, Canadian rock group Bachman & Turner and stand-out American musos Pat Benatar and her husband Neil Giraldo.

They were preceded by Wakatipu High bands The Fletcherz and Alpine Effect.

America, in their 43rd year, opened with the popular You Can Do Magic and early on also played Gerry Beckley’s early-’70s hit I Need You with the memorable lyrics “I need you like the flower needs the rain”.

Band members delivered a couple of lovely lines: “These are not oldies, they’re classic rock – there’s a difference” and: “We’ll do a few from that ‘Oh, I forgot they did that song’ collection.”

America also performed some other musos’ numbers including California Dreamin’ from The Mamas and The Papas, starting with the lyrics: “All the leaves are brown.”

By the time they came to Sister Golden Hair (“Will you meet me in the middle …”), the mosh-pit was heaving.

The band took their bow and returned for an encore of what else but A Horse with No Name.

The band signed off: “Remember – Queenstown, South Island, NZA, America loves you.”

Bachman & Turner, who’ve sold more than 30 million records and performed for three decades, took longer to get the crowd going.

That changed after half an hour when they belted out American Woman followed soon afterwards by You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.

Their encore, of course, was Takin’ Care of Business – for which Bachman & Turner were joined by America’s band members.

After local MCs Craig ‘Ferg’ Ferguson and Brendan Quill valiantly encouraged the crowd to do a Mexican wave, Benatar and Giraldo took to the stage.

Instantly they got people on their feet with All Fired Up (“there comes a time when everything just falls into line”) followed by Invincible (“it’s a do or die situation …”).

Benatar, who recently turned 60, exclaimed: “Oh my God, I can’t believe it took 35 years to get here.”

The couple revealed they’d recently celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary on Queenstown’s Cecil Peak.

Their performance climaxed with smash hits Hit Me With Your Best Shot and Love Is A Battlefield.

After taking a bow they returned for three encores – which oddly didn’t include Shadows of the Night.

Let’s Stay Together finished with an outstanding keyboard solo by Giraldo.

After Benatar thanked the audience and local burger joint Fergburger, the band took their leave with a medley that started and finished with Heartbreaker and included Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire.