Monkees.Net - The #1 Monkees Web Site Since 1994 !

1997 Concert Review – Detroit

June 11, 2012 by  
Filed under news feed

Chimply Amazing

The Monkees Swing Back Into Spotlight
At Pine Knob

by Miles Uhlar

The Michigan Daily

13 August 1997


The Monkees played to a near-capacity crowd at Pine Knob Music Theatre last Wednesday night. That’s right, The Monkees – those four shiny faces that are again popping up on VH1 and Nickelodeon, those teenybopper pop gods of the 1960s. When I called friends and relations offering them my second ticket to the show, responses varied from petrified looks of disgust to cruel cackles of laughter. But I remained undaunted. Peter Tork, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith and Micky Dolenz still deserve some attention.No, The Monkees were not a real band. But in some senses they did become one. Music on the first two albums (which included the smash hits “Last Train to Clarksville” and “I’m a Believer”) were performed entirely by studio musicians, save a track or two by Nesmith. (Neil Young and Steven Stills headline a distinguished list of musicians on Monkee records).

But on the next two albums, 1967’s “Headquarters” and 1968’s “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, and Jones,” The Monkees played nearly all the music and penned roughly half the songs. Surprisingly, these are the group’s two best offerings, particularly “Pisces.” Undoubtedly a great album of pop music, it also contains a few murkier songs, a touch of the psychedelic.

During this time period the group launched two completely sold-out tours, on which they played every note live. In doing so they became the first true “arena” act, playing hockey and basketball arenas for up to 90 minutes, an unprecedented length at the time.

Although Jones can’t play much of anything, Nesmith and Tork are accomplished musicians on guitar and bass, and Dolenz can keep a steady beat on drums. So with today’s better sound systems, it would have been interesting to hear the group live. And earlier in the year European fans got to do just that. The band began touring in support of its poorly titled 1996 album, “Justus.”

But Nesmith, who remains a bit disgruntled with his Monkee fame, bailed on the summer American tour, saying he would write the group’s 1998 movie instead. What a downer. Always a positive influence on the more show-biz-oriented Jones and Dolenz, his absence would mean a backup band would be necessary. This made me fear something akin to an embarrassing Vegas lounge act.

Luckily, the trio managed to avoid most such pitfalls. Dolenz played drums for most of the evening, and Tork alternated between bass, keyboards and guitar. Even Jones danced around with a guitar. (Unfortunately the strap broke at one point, and although our hero had been pounding away at the strings, it became obvious he hadn’t really been playing much of anything at all.)

Early numbers included the “Headquarters” standout “Shades of Gray,” with a beautiful piano line from Tork, and “Words” from “Pisces.” A surprise followed with “Oh My My,” which hails from the group’s final ’60s effort, “Changes.” (This album featured only Dolenz and Jones – a cruel rumor had it that Jones would follow it with an album and tour under the name The Monkee.) Dolenz’s vocals were smooth and restrained – the song was well-performed.

The hit “Valleri” started off well, but broke into some kind of wah-wah guitar solo from a guy in the backup band. A few minutes later the guys thrilled the crowd with a haunting performance of “The Porpoise Song,” off the soundtrack to the group’s 1968 cult classic film “Head,” directed by Jack Nicholson. This was probably the evening’s musical highlight – stellar vocals by Dolenz and Jones, with more outstanding piano from Tork. The momentum continued with worthy performances of “I’ll Be Back Upon My Feet” and “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” another classic off “Pisces.”

Unfortunately, at this point each member did a solo piece to the accompaniment of the backup band. Tork’s performance of “Lucille” on the banjo was no better than adequate. Dolenz’s was much less than that; he started with some embarrassing one-liners and then proceeded to perform some sort of song which he called blues. It sounded more like something that would be at home in a Carnival Cruise ballroom – definitely a showstopper. Jones followed with “Girl,” the cute hit of Brady Bunch lore. The song made me squirm in my seat, but the crowd went ballistic. Girls from 14 to 60 were going nuts. Unbelievable. I guess the twerp must still have sex appeal. Damn.

Fortunately, the group ended with a string of crowd-pleasers. “I’m a Believer,” “Stepping Stone” and “Daydream Believer” came in rapid succession. It sounded “groovy,” and all were happy. Nearly the entire crowd stood and cheered during “Daydream Believer” – the ultimate feel-good moment. There had been some bad jokes and some smarmy solo numbers. But the song selection was great, and the tunes were performed well. All in all, it was a good night. And if Michael Nesmith does hop back on board in 1998, things will only get better for The Monkees.
The Monkees: Have they fallen from their tree?

Peter: Dabbled with a variety of solo projects, including “The Peter Tork Experience.” Also dabbled with illegal substances and spent a year in the “big house.” Works as a sometime substitute history teacher at a California junior high school.

Micky: Barely lost out to Henry Winkler for the role of “The Fonz” on “Happy Days.” Current star of the USA hit drama “Pacific Blue” (you know, the one with the bike cops).

Davy: Titled his autobiography “They Made a Monkee Out of Me.” Used to wear shoes with five-inch wooden heels; admitted dashing to put them on before answering the phone. Recently rocked out with The Edge at the Los Angeles U2 concert.

Mike: Inherited millions from mother’s invention of Liquid Paper. Won first Grammy ever for music video; credited with the concept of MTV. Rolling Stone calls his work “the best music never heard.” Gets mad when you ask him about his little green hat.


Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

You must be logged in to post a comment.