As I’ve said before, some things are better late than never. Today that sentiment is never more true as I reflect on a concert I saw this past Friday. Normally I would have posted my thoughts sooner but I was traveling and not really near a computer and then time slipped away from me so as the saying goes … well, you know.
Now I know it may not come as any big surprise to readers of this blog but I happen to like The Monkees (yes, that’s an understatement lol). So, with that said, what better way to usher in seeing live shows again (I haven’t been to a live show since Covid began in 2020) than with a Monkees show?
A Monkees show you say? I thought there was only one Monkee left? Well you’d be correct as the only surviving Monkee (drummer and singer Micky Dolenz) is doing a short 2022 tour performing a show called “Micky Dolenz Celebrates The Monkees” and that certainly isn’t a Monkees show. Or is it?
I must say after having just seen “Micky Dolenz Celebrates The Monkees” I can attest that this show truly felt like a Monkees concert. I have to state up front that I’m no stranger to seeing The Monkees live. I’ve seen various configurations of the group seventeen times as well as seeing Micky Dolenz perform solo twice, including this past Friday, and trust me when I say this felt like being at a Monkees show.
This “Micky Dolenz Celebrates The Monkees” show is being produced by long-time Monkees historian and manager Andrew Sandoval, who also produced that last several Monkees tours, so of course it has the same feel as many of The Monkees shows since 2011 when Sandoval became actively involved with producing Monkees shows.
Not only were several Monkees songs performed that didn’t originally carry a Dolenz vocal but there were several lovely video montages of each group member (Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork in case you forgot) plus ample clips from “The Monkees” TV show itself as well as their movie “HEAD”. There were also several previously unseen video gems from Dolenz’ archive including some spectacular footage of The Monkees live in 1967!
All four Monkees were everywhere in the theater throughout the night as Dolenz guided the audience through some of the musical highlights of the group’s catalog.
Of course since Micky Dolenz is the lone surviving Monkee naturally this show couldn’t be billed as a Monkees performance but with all the video footage and undiscovered music played in the hall (Sandoval dug up some truly wonderful unheard audio gems especially from Davy and Mike) while Dolenz wasn’t on stage this is as close as you can get to a live Monkees experience.
You get to hear and see each of the other three Monkees so much throughout the evening that at times you feel as if they’ve just left the stage for a quick break and will be back soon. The pacing of the show was excellent and the video tributes were so well done that I was left with the feeling of being with all four Monkees instead of just one.
The set list for “Micky Dolenz Celebrates The Monkees” was excellent touching on all the familiar Monkees hits while adding enough choice album cuts to make it interesting for this long-time Monkees fan.
(Note: To see Micky Dolenz complete set list for the Brown County Music Center show go here: https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/micky-dolenz/2022/brown-county-music-center-nashville-in-7bb68ecc.html)
While the Monkee maniac in me would have loved to hear more obscure songs like “Tear Drop City”, “Mommy and Daddy” or even “Shorty Blackwell” (can you imagine how that would sound live?) overall the set hit all the right notes. Plus Dolenz sang so damn well that even the familiar hits sounded fresh and lively which is quite a feat as I’ve heard them live several times.
The big Monkees hits “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and Dolenz sung versions of “Valleri” and “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” were joined by wonderfully faithful versions of “Take a Giant Step” (the b-side of “Last Train to Clarksville“) and “I’ll Spend My Life with You” (from the “Headquarters” album) as well as a sublime version of “Can You Dig It?” (from the film and soundtrack of The Monkees film “HEAD”) which had been sung in concert for years by writer Peter Tork but was originally sung on record by Dolenz.
I’d have to say the highlight of the evening for me was the second set right after intermission when Dolenz hit his stride with truly magnificent versions of “Porpoise Song (Theme from “HEAD”)”, “I’ll Spend My Life with You”, “Take a Giant Step” and “Me & Magdelena” which was sung as a duet with his sister Coco. These four songs were worth the price of admission alone and make this show a must see for any Monkees fan.
(Note 2: Micky’s sister Coco is a wonder and has a great voice just like her brother. I love seeing and hearing her at these shows and she also has such a fun and graceful presence)
I was amazed at how youthful and strong Dolenz sounded throughout the entire performance. Honestly after seeing him perform live for nearly forty years I think that his voice at this performance may have sounded the best I’ve ever heard it. Truly Micky Dolenz is one of the 1960’s greatest pop voices and time hasn’t diminished his vocal gifts one bit.
Of course the band behind Dolenz was also superb and featured the same players that toured last year with Dolenz and Mike Nesmith on what was rightfully entitled “The Monkees Farewell Tour”.
Dolenz and company also stuck to arrangements that closely mirrored the original Monkees recordings with a slight tweak here and there which was a great thing in my book.
Everything from the songs to the pacing to the video tributes and not least the lovely Brown County Music Center made this an evening I’ll treasure and one of the best performances I’ve ever seen from Micky Dolenz.
This mini tour ends this week but if anyone out there is near one of the remaining dates you must try and go if your Covid situation allows for it of course. I missed last years farewell shows with Mike because of Covid but kind of regret it as of course he died just weeks after the tour ended.
Luckily things Covid wise have calmed down for the moment where I live and this concert was not only the perfect way to celebrate the legacy of The Monkees but it was also the perfect way to celebrate gathering together for live music something that’s been missing from my world these past many months.
I took a few photos, above, but I’m afraid the camera in my phone wasn’t up to the task. If you squint the right way you can make out the figures onstage but at least you get a feel for how the show looked.
Below is a photo of the groovy Monkees Complete Series Blu-Ray box set which was for sale at the merchandise stand at the concert. I own the set already but two discs got damaged so I was thrilled to finally be able to track another copy down. It was supposed to be only for sale at Micky’s shows but has since been made available to purchase online.
(Note 3: Today Rhino has just made this wonderful blu-ray set available again to purchase online. It had been out of print for the last few years so if you want a copy you can get one here: https://monkeesstore.warnermusic.com/the-monkees-complete-tv-series-blu-ray.html)
Well, that’s all for now. Just a few quick thoughts on a wonderful night out. I hope that Micky Dolenz continues to perform and record but if this is the last time I see him perform live it was a spectacular send-off.
Until next time be well and see you soon …