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REVIEW: Songs, songwriters get well-deserved spotlight in Monkees tour

July 12, 2011 by  
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“The Monkees” were a TV show. Yes, we get that. But the Monkees also rose well above their origins as four sitcom characters and became a legitimate musical group thanks to their talents and to the great collection of composers who wrote for them.

That’s what the 45th Anniversary Tour of the Monkees, which played the Mountain Winery in Saratoga, CA. Sunday night, will be remembered for. It wasn’t all four Monkees as Mike Nesmith chose not to do the full tour (there are rumors he’ll do at least one stop), but Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork put on a wonderfully entertaining show that went deep into the catalog.

See pictures from the show in the slideshow at the left.

The three Monkees played it like they were having a great time onstage, poking fun at themselves (“Who wrote this stuff?” was a line used several times) and enjoying the audience.
Before the show started, the crowd was treated to Monkees songs over the venue speakers that including some treats for the hardcore fans like a vintage ’60s aircheck by KHJ Boss Jock the Real Don Steele mentioning the Monkees.
After an instrumental introduction that featured some of the songs in the set, the three guys came out on the stage and the crowd was ready and waiting as they launched into “I’m A Believer.” The band was sharp all through the show, though the vocal levels at the beginning were a bit low. They improved as the show went on.
The set list spanned the entire catalog from “The Monkees” debut album to “That Was Then, This Is Now.”
Maybe the most interesting part of the show were the songs from “Head,” which Davy introduced as “the biggest bomb in the history of Columbia Pictures.” Maybe it’s because of Rhino’s special reissue of the soundtrack with rarities or the music itself, but the songs from the film they played hold up much better now than one might have ever expected. And how many fans have wanted to hear the Monkees perform “Porpoise Song” live?
Actually, for that matter, who would have guessed the Monkees would ever perform songs like “All of Our Toys,” “Daddy’s Song” and “I Don’t Think You Know Me At All” in concert?
There were many other great songs in the show: “Sometime in the Morning,” “Someday Man,” “She,” “I Wanna Be Free,” “Valleri” and “Mary, Mary.” The hits just kept on coming.
The guys displayed both comic and serious sides. They threw out jokes (Davy said Justin Bieber stole his hairdo). They also paid tribute to the great songwriters, like Boyce & Hart, Neil Diamond and Carole King, who composed many of the Monkees’ biggest songs.
The setlist included several Nesmith songs, including “Papa Gene’s Blues,” “Circle Sky” and “What Am I Doin’ Hangin’ Round?” The effort on the Nez songs was exceptionally enthusiastic, a great tribute to the absent Monkee.
The show revved into high gear near the end with a string of great songs: “Words,” “Shades of Grey,” “Goin’ Down,” “Last Train To Clarksville,” “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You,” “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” and “Daydream Believer,” with encores of “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and a reprise of “I’m a Believer.”

While the Monkees were conceived as a TV show, the combination of the four stars, the songs and the studio talent that helped build the Monkees shows they weren’t just a fabricated foursome. Their continued exclusion from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame is silly. Even though Jones joked the Monkees were the best cover band for their own records, he also said the band fought and won the right to be their own musicians on their own records. “Better than some members of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame,” he said with more than a little sarcasm.

via REVIEW: Songs, songwriters get well-deserved spotlight in Monkees tour – National Vintage Rock ‘n’ Roll |

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