McGuinn, Hillman Open 2018 ‘Sweetheart’ Tour With Surprise

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Chris Hillman and Roger McGuinn, The Theater at Ace Hotel, Los Angeles, July 24, 2018 (Photo: © Best Classic Bands; used with permission)

Byrds co-founders Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman opened their tour in Los Angeles on July 24, 2018, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their groundbreaking album, Sweetheart of the Rodeo. The pair performed with country greats Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives. And for the first concert at the Theatre at Ace Hotel, another prominent guest joined them onstage: Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers sat in for three poignant encores.

The evening included a whopping 28 songs, far more than the 11 tracks on the Sweetheart album, as the musicians offered many other prominent Byrds songs plus well-chosen covers of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Gene Autry, Merle Haggard and… Tom Petty.

Watch the opening number from L.A., Dylan’s “My Back Pages”

Watch McGuinn, Hillman and Stuart share lead vocal duties on Sweetheart‘s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”

Watch Hillman sing lead on “Hickory Wind,” originally sung by Gram Parsons on Sweetheart

After the concert’s first encore of the Byrds’ “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star,” covered for decades by Petty and the Heartbreakers, the band’s Campbell, who had been seated in the audience, joined the others for a cover of “American Girl” (with McGuinn singing lead).

Watch them perform “American Girl” on July 24, 2018

Two other covers followed: Petty’s “Wildflowers” (which Hillman recorded on his 2017 solo album)…

and “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” which Campbell co-wrote with Petty and Jeff Lynne, and sung on this occasion by Stuart. (See the complete setlist below.)

Watch Stuart sing “Runnin’ Down a Dream” at this concert

Sweetheart of the Rodeo is widely considered to be one of the most influential country-rock albums of all time, credited with giving rise to the genre. The album introduced new band member Gram Parsons, who was seeking success with the International Submarine Band, whose debut album was weeks from release.

Watch them perform the evening’s final number

Thanks to Thomas K. Arnold for the great clips!

The Theatre at Ace Hotel, Los Angeles, July 24, 2018 Setlist

Set 1
My Back Pages
A Satisfied Mind
Mr. Spaceman
Time Between
Old John Robertson
Wasn’t Born to Follow
Sing Me Back Home
Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man
Mr. Tambourine Man

Set 2
Country Boy Rock & Roll
Time Don’t Wait
You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere
Pretty Boy Floyd
Hickory Wind
Life in Prison
One Hundred Years From Now
Nothing Was Delivered
Blue Canadian Rockies
The Christian Life
You’re Still On My Mind
You Don’t Miss Your Water
I Am a Pilgrim
You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (Reprise)

So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star
American Girl
Runnin’ Down a Dream
Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season)

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In Best Classic Bands’ Album Rewind, our reviewer called Sweetheart… “a cornerstone of country-rock and point source for alt-country and Americana, The Byrds’ most consequential stylistic stroke since the band’s pioneering folk-rock debut three years earlier.”

Related: Our review of the tour from Sept. 2018

Best Classic Bands Staff

4 Comments so far

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  1. Carlos
    #1 Carlos 25 July, 2018, 13:58

    FYI: I was there. Mike Campbell left after ‘American Girl.’ He didn’t play on any other songs. Great, great show.

    Reply this comment
  2. Smorgy
    #2 Smorgy 26 July, 2018, 21:14

    Monumentally thrilling show.
    Loved the comraderie of the musicians, and the way they blended their talents and enthusiasm. Beautiful, meaningful songs played with heart and passion.

    Reply this comment
  3. John Rose
    #3 John Rose 15 July, 2020, 10:33

    I hope they recorded some shows.

    Reply this comment

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