The untimely passing of Peter Tork last month ended any hope that the surviving members of The Monkees would ever play together as a trio.
The remaining duo of Micky Dolenz and Mike Nesmith were touring last year, until a health issue forced the tour to stop in July, but has now kicked off again with make up gigs and new dates. Officially dubbed, “The Monkees Present: The Mike & Micky Show,” the group performed on March 1, 2019 at the Chevalier Theater in Medford, Massachusetts.
Opening with “Good Clean Fun,” a catchy country laced ditty, is a tad ironic as Nesmith sings “I told you I’d come back and here I am” – an inside joke on his (now reversed) decision not to tour anymore (and while the lyrics of a returning lover seem sweet, Nesmith had revealed in the 70s that the song has a much darker meaning) and ran into “Last Train To Clarksville,” the pre-fab fours first hit ever and opened the doors to an amazing mixture of classics and rare cuts.
The bands landmark album, “Headquarters,” was well represented during the night, as Nesmith took the lead on “Sunny Girlfriend,” “You Told Me,” and a re-imagined “stop and start” rendition of, “You Just May Be The One.”
As a tribute to Tork, they dedicated “For Petes Sake” (which Tork wrote) to his memory, and was the first of two nods to the “shy” Monkee.
Before starting the infectious, “The Girl I Knew Somewhere,” Nesmith and Dolenz jokingly asked each other who was going to sing lead (as there are recorded takes of both singing lead – but Dolenzs version was the actual hit). Dolenz ended up manning the microphone, and it was one of the nights best moments.
Not just content to relive their 60s repertoire, they performed “Birth of an Accidental Hipster” (from their 2016 commercially and critically acclaimed comeback disc, “Good Times”), after which Nesmith introduced the rarely played nugget, “St. Matthew.” A pair from their cult classic flick, “Head,” were remembered with the distinctive “Porpoise Song” (Theme From “Head”),” and a freewheeling “Circle Sky,” before closing the first half of the show with “Me & Magdalena” (another “Good Times” track).
During the break, a video of Tork played with him solo on electric guitar, singing a cover of The Mills Brothers “Till Then.” It was a most touching honour to the multi-talented Tork.
After the intermission, Dolenz and Nesmith both manned acoustic guitars (and sat on bar stools) for an unplugged set. The duo did stripped down versions of “Papa Genes Blues” and a unique take of Dolenzs first penned tune, “Randy Scouse Git” (before which, he explained the story behind the writing of the song and its controversial title). A charming performance of “I’ll Spend My Life With You” was sandwiched in between two songs from Nesmiths solo catalogue, “Nine Times Blue” (which is actually from Nesmiths First National Band days) and “Different Drum.” The most unexpected moment was a stellar “Aunties Municipal Court,” a deep cut from “The Birds, The Bees, And The Monkees” record, before wrapping the unplugged set up with “Sweet Young Thing.”
In memory of the other late Monkee, Davy Jones, Dolenz sang “Daydream Believer.” While the past few Monkee outings saw either audience members on lead vocals, or a video of Jones lip-synching the song was played, it was great to hear how the song would have sounded if Dolenz had originally taken the lead. The set closed with a pair from the “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.” album, “What Am I Doin’ Hangin’ ‘Round?” and a tremendous “Pleasant Valley Sunday.”
A two song encore featured a shortened “Listen To The Band” and their most iconic cut, “I’m a Believer,” ending an emotional celebration of the bands legacy (as this was one the bands best set lists of all time) and the timelessness of their songs.
David Roy Williams will tour The Monkees with Mike Nesmith and Micky Dolenz in Australia in June.
The Monkees Australian and New Zealand dates
Saturday June 8, Christchurch, Isaac Theatre
Sunday June 9, Auckland, Great Hall
Monday, June 10, Wellington, Michael Fowler Centre
Wednesday June 12 Brisbane QPAC
Saturday June 15 Melbourne Palais Theatre
Sunday June 16 Perth Astor Theatre
Tuesday June 18 Sydney Opera House
Tickets on sale: http://davidroywilliams.com/tours/themonkees/