Spoilers: Listen to this band: The Monkees bring joy, energy to reunion show
- NOVEMBER 12, 2012
- BY: STEVE MARINUCCI
After last year's great Monkees reunion tour with Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork, one had to wonder how this surprise 2012 reunion without Jones and with Michael Nesmith, who was missing last year, would compare.
Simply put, it was wonderful. Maybe it was the bounce of having Nesmith, who has rarely toured in recent years. Before his recent shows in Big Sur and England this year, he'd been rarely seen performing outside of his Videoranch cyberhome. But he was a regular live performer in the past, doing shows to promote his superb “Tropical Campfires”album (which became the "Live at the Britt Festival" CD and DVD) and “The Prison.”
It also could have been the good feelings everyone, especially the band, had in the show's several tributes to Jones, who was sorely missed but definitely not forgotten. But whatever it was, last night's show at Flint Center in Cupertino, CA., was a delight and showed a true musical side to the Monkees.
After a lengthy introduction featuring lots of rare audio and video clips that were a delight to see, the show began as the three Monkees tumbled onstage to the familiar “Here they come, walking down the street” riff from the Monkees TV show theme. They then launched into “Last Train to Clarksville.”
If one thing was noticeable in comparing this year's tour to last year's, it was the band that was much tighter and the show seemed much more focused. Maybe it was the presence of Papa Nez, but they were a tight group last night.
When Nez stepped up for his first song, “Papa Gene's Blues,” the house literally went wild, as they did for all his songs. He seemed humbled by the reaction, maybe not wanting to take the spotlight off his fellow Monkees. But there was no question the crowd adored him and was thrilled to see him.
The show featured clusters of songs from the “Headquarters” and “Head” albums. The “Head” section, the only slight drag in the program, began with a brief clip of highlights of the irreverent movie, then several songs, mostly live and one on video. The highlight here, again, was Nesmith and the always stunning “Circle Sky.”
Another memorable moment was Dolenz being spotlighted in “Randy Scouse Git” with a poncho that resembled the one he wore in the music video (the other is long gone, we were told). Peter Tork, who looked stronger than he did last year in the wake of his bout with cancer, also turned in strong performances on “Your Auntie Grizelda” and “For Pete's Sake.”
The Monkees comedy schtick was kept to a minimum, but one of the few times they let go, and one of the more hilarious moments of the evening, was “Daily Nightly,” which was introduced by Dolenz with jokes about the psychedelic lyric phrasings written by Nesmith and the use of the Moog Synthesizer.
But the Moog wasn't there. In its place, imagine, if you can, Nesmith mouthing the Moog sounds. It was a brilliant idea and turned a silly song into one of the show's highlights.
The three tributes to Davy Jones were emotional. Two of them used music videos for “I Wanna Be Free” and “Daddy's Song” featuring just the original songs.
The third, and by far the most heart-tugging, was “Daydream Believer,” which Dolenz said the group, at Nesmith's suggestion, decided they couldn't sing because it belonged to the fans. So the group got a couple of fans to come onstage and the stage led the house, with teary eyes, for sure, in singing the song. (See video at left.)
The show ended with two of the Monkees' strongest songs, “Listen to the Band” and “Pleasant Valley Sunday.” It was a show you hated to see end and one you'd want to see over and over, especially after the three members literally put their heart and soul into it.
A note to the Monkees: Please film this tour and release it. This was a great evening and a great show that deserves to be long remembered. And hopefully, more tour dates will be added so that more people who want to can see it.
And a message to the folks at the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame: Get off the dime and let these guys in. After nights like this, they definitely deserve to be there.