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Concert-goers embrace nostalgia at Monkees show

June 6, 2011 by  
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“The Monkees weren’t about music,” Marge’s psychiatrist tells her in an episode of “The Simpsons.” “They were about rebellion, about political and social upheaval!”

Well, sure, but that was 45 years ago. In 2011 the reunited Monkees are about nostalgia, pure and simple. And while it may not make for a healthy steady diet, on a hot Saturday night in June a couple of hours of it went over quite well.

Powered by an eight-piece band, all of whom pitched in on backing vocals, the trio of Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork (fourth Monkee Michael Nesmith is sitting out this reunion tour, as he has most others) ran through two sets of hits and enough less familiar material to make a Monkees fanatic swoon.

The band played to a sold out Ruth Eckerd Hall crowd of 2,180. It was the second date of the U.S. leg of the tour commemorating the 45th anniversary of the band’s debut.

The second set opened with every proper song from the soundtrack to “Head,” the band’s 1968 feature film in which they savagely trashed their pre-fab four image in garish, psychedelic splendor.

The first set included slamming takes on “Mary Mary,” “Randy Scouse Git” and “Words,” as well as a sweet run-through of Nesmith’s “Papa Gene’s Blues.”

Scenes from “The Monkees” TV series and montages of period photographs played on the video screen. Dolenz and Tork fell into their TV personas – over-the-top ham and space-case, respectively – with ease. Jones poked fun at his age – “I’m Davy’s dad, he’ll be out in a minute,” he told the crowd early on – while during “Shades of Gray,” Jones and Tork began inspecting each other’s graying locks.

The occasional rough patch was down to the lead voices, all now in their mid- to late-60s. Jones has lost the least vocally, or knows best how to compensate. Tork, who sang the fewest leads during The Monkees’ first run, was game and able on most tunes, but his efforts on Nesmith’s “What Am I Doing Hanging Around?” were weak enough to make a fan wish it had been left off the set list.

Dolenz would have fared better had he not tried so hard. His harsh, theatrical approach torpedoed the beautiful “Sometime in the Morning” and nearly did the same to the more buoyant “Porpoise Song.”

But the flaws were mostly overshadowed in the barrage of hits which closed the show, including “Last Train to Clarksville,” “Saturday’s Child,” “She Hangs Out,” “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” “Daydream Believer” and an encore of “Pleasant Valley Sunday.”

A cynic could argue that The Monkees’ success paved the way for today’s pre-packaged pop commodities. If so, Saturday’s show confirms standards were far higher 45 years ago.

via Concert-goers embrace nostalgia at Monkees show |

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