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Concert Review | The Monkees: Madcap reunion a good vibes escape

June 25, 2011 by  
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Time lost its grip on a couple of thousand people last night in the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion as the Monkees delivered two hours of nonstop nostalgia. The 1960s group ranged from the faintly familiar to Beatles-sized hits.

The Monkees, often called the “Prefab Four, outsold the Beatles in 1967. They, rather the brain trust that created the phenomenon with actors of varying musical competence, did it with a madcap sitcom featuring musical showcases, screaming girls, and a foursome carefully chosen for maximum appeal. This, as the Summer Of Love lit the bomb of cultural upheaval.

Last night, they were three, with Michael Nesmith declining again to join Davy Jones, Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz in their newest reunion after four decades apart. Though they vaguely resembled an aging trio of Dudley Moore, Keith Carradine, and Bob Hope, The Monkees drew considerable charm from gentle anachronism.

“We were signed to a 45-year contract,” Jones said about the band’s formation, adding that the pact forbade it from mentioning controversies such as the Vietnam War, drugs, and gay rights. The happy present times, he joked, made his performance of I Wanna be Free so much more meaningful.

Shades of Gray was more potent and interestingly ironic: “I remember when the answers seemed so clear/We had never lived with doubt or tasted fear Today there is no black or white/Only shades of gray.”

The Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil song offered respite from the turmoil of the ’60s, which from today’s vantage point – and the vintage video clips that accompanied the performance – seem clearly a contrast of awareness and innocence; today’s issues once again feel muddled as gray.

As always, Jones and his pals skirted such concerns, focusing on fun and good vibes.

Issues such as the quartet’s slim role in the original recordings were aired (Tork said that filming schedules and producers’ demands interfered.)

Last Train to Clarksville lost no luster with its mix of slack desire and a killer melody. The Neil Diamond tunes ( A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You) competed for appeal with the equally distinctive Boyce and Hart songs ( Clarksville), while the Carole King songs ( Sometime in the Morning) outclassed them all.

And all of us got a break from the woes of 2011.

via Concert Review | The Monkees: Madcap reunion a good vibes escape | The Columbus Dispatch.

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