A coworker, who is a rabid Monkees fan, came up with an extra pair of tickets for last week's Monkees concert. Yes, the Monkees. It was a time warp for me. I remember watching the Monkees when I was little and there I was, watching (most of) them onstage.
As you remember, Davey Jones passed away this year. The band toured without Mike Nesmith, who decided to tour after Davey left us. Mike hasn't toured with the Monkees in many many years, so this was a real surprise.
The Keswick Theater is a great place to catch anyone. It's small and intimate and there are no bad seats. We sat halfway back on the right. A huge video screen played ancient video clips, including the commercials the boys did for cereal and cologne.
The crowd was an interesting mix, between about 15 and 65. Of course whenever you're at a concert, there are the requisite Concert Weirdos and of course, one of them was sitting next to my wife. It's really off-putting, watching a sixty year old woman playing air drums and conducting the music, all the time reaching into the chairs around her and generally disturbing the peace. As a result, my wife was half in my chair (and grumbling). That lady had no idea how close she came to ceasing to be.
You could not get close to the merchandise on the way in - it was mad. I wanted a program, at very least. Unfortunately it was worse on the way out, to the point of fire hazard.
The boys hit the stage to major fanfare. The backup band was fantastic. I have seen a bit of Monkees video and the shows are always first rate. This was my first live experience and I was not disappointed. Everything was tight, the sound was phenominal and the video was an added treat: it ran constantly during the set, playing the videos from the songs the boys were doing.
Mike was in fine form and played well with everybody. He primarily used his Gretsch 12 string electric through a small Fender combo, probably a Deluxe Reverb. Peter played his red Strat, a red five-string bass, banjo, and a Korg keyboard. Mickey played a Taylor acoustic guitar, various percussion and a custom drum set, but primarily fronted the group. The band also had Mickey's sister on vocals and Mike's son Christian on guitar and vocals.
They opened with Last Train to Clarksville and we were off to the races. All periods were covered, including psychedelic. Mikes tunes were front and center and everybody got a chance to sing lead. Mickey has all the energy of Steven Tyler (and none of the scarves). He hit all the notes, too.
Davey's absence did not go unnoticed. Whenever Davey appeared on the screen, there was applause. Finally it came time for Daydream Believer. They mentioned that they had all sung it before but it just wasn't right, so they asked the audience to sing it. They pulled some guy onstage, who got to stand next to Mickey and sing the whole song. The guy did well and was out of his mind, meeting the band. It was a really nice tribute.
My coworker, as I mentioned, is a Monkees maniac. He probably knows more trivia than the band itself. He can tell me the names of the episodes I describe. He knows the character actors who played bit parts. He knows what was recorded and where they were at any time. You know how there's one yahoo at every concert? The guy screaming things out? This was my buddy. Everyone was pretty quiet between songs. This was right up until he started yelling things like "I love you, Mickey" and "NESmith!" After that, it was bedlam. He almost singlehandedly whipped the crowd into a frenzy.
The tour is finished. It's too early to say but my bet is that the band is finished (at least as we know it). I was really happy that I finally got to see my tv friends at least once. My wife, already a fan, enjoyed the hell out of the evening. Strangely enough, all of my musical friends said they would have gone, if they had known.
Hats off, guys. Thanks from a fan or two.