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This is Now : Another Monkees 1997 UK Tour review

March 31, 2011 by  
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THE MONKEES. Manchester Nynex Arena 15th March 1997
By Phil Singleton

A blaze of newspaper and TV coverage had ensured that for all of us that
were interested,The Monkees, yes all four of them, were back together for
the first time in 30 years and here in the UK, coming down our street.
Should we be interested? The media deemed the event newsworthy, but
collectively felt it necessary to mock.The same angle, time & again the”M”
word. Not “M” for Monkees, or even Mock, but for…no,this is an “M” word
free zone.

Davy Jones engaged his boundless infectious energy on the local TV and
radio prior to the show. In the midst (no, not the”M” word) of a live radio
interview on GMR Davy uttered an un-Monkee like phrase. He was”pissed off”
with the Manchester Evening News. In his home town, his local paper had
been less than kind. He rightly expected better. Don’t hold your breath
waiting for an exclusive interview with Davy in the said rag. Won’t do it,
won’t buy it, won’t read it, again, ever. And they mentioned the “M” word.

Media reaction counted for “zilch” (monkee ref.) to the thousands of fans
inside the Nynex Arena. A nice turnout. The demographic spread pointing
towards a longevity reflected by the group’s apparent wish to extend
Monkee-madness into the world of Monkee-movies. Developments are awaited.
(Madness & Movies do not equal the “M” word).

No pain,no gain,so the excruciating NancyBoy made us suffer for half an
hour. To be fair, there is always a curious novelty value in watching
offspring of famous pop-sters engaged in a trade off between family name
and own identity.

Nesmith jnr. is a more than competent guitarist, while vocalist Donovan
jnr., resembling an elongated stick insect, possessed an awkward charisma.
The keyboards grated with the energy of the material. The motivation for
the keyboards became clear however, a Gary Numan fixation, manifesting
itself in a lyrical name check and cover of “Are friends Electric”. Fine
tuning required.

Suspended video screens treated us to a mixture of old and new clips of The
Monkees, accompanied by the updated theme from the reunion TV special. A
bang and a flash and all eyes darted back to the stage. There they stood,
Davy, Micky, Mike, and Peter center stage atired in subtly differing
burgundy suits.The almost childlike enthusiasm of the audience betrayed the
essence of the evening, it was going to be fun.

The boys opened the first part of their show with a rip-roaring “Last
Train To Clarksville”. An obvious crowd pleaser perhaps, but was put in the
shade by the classic “Circle Sky”. Those sound like power chords to me
Mike.The excellent “Regional Girl” from the new CD “Justus” followed,
cleverly synced in with video footage.

Davy was passing through his home town tonight and appeared to be
reflecting the same child like enthusiasm back tenfold. Displaying the
energy of an 18 year old, could he survive until the end of the performance
at this pace? “Recognise anyone?” Peter asked him. “My relatives have taken
up the first ten rows!” he excitedly replied. Davy was thrilled and had
every right to be. All four were buzzing tonight.

The first section of the show, just the four of them, proved beyond doubt
they could cut it as a group. Detractors weep. As if to emphasise the
point, Act 1 was centered on the reunion album “Justus”, alongside
“Headquarters”, their only 60’s album recorded as a group ‘proper’. Micky
treated us to a spot on “Randy Scouse Git”, additional percussion by Davy
’51 going on 18′ Jones. Mike, sure he’s Mr. Cool, but he positively fizzed
through “Sunny Girlfriend”.

“Your Auntie Griselda”, a touch predictable, but undeniably Peter. The
choice of new material, “You and I”, “Oh What A Night” (“For my sisters”)
allowed Davy to indulge. Other selected gems, “Mary Mary”,”For Pete’s
Sake”, and even the concluding” I’m A Beliver”, paled alongside the jewel
in the crown,”Shades Of Grey”. Exquisitly delivered by Davy, it simply
brought the house down. Could I hear someone crying? Exit stage left.

More TV Special clips kept us amused while a full compliment of backing
musicians assembled on stage. Mike then strolled back on to kick off the
‘solo’ segment.

Relaxed, dressed casual to match, he gave us what we wanted, “Rio”. Davy,
“direct from Harry Ramsden’s” according to Mike, danced and leapt his way
through” Daddy’s Song” recreating faithfully the routine from “Head”.
Following a burst of Bach from his keyboards, Peter enjoyed the freedom of
his slot with a rendition of “Lucille”, moving from one side of the stage
to the other, delighting the crowd. Micky indulged himself displaying his
blues influences.Not as accessible as his collegues but warmly received by
an appreciative audience. Further TV clips then…

Re-emerging, decked out in white mix and match suits, Micky introduced the
final Act as a tribute to the great songwriters who worked with The
Monkees. Greatest Hits time.

The backing musicians remained on stage, allowing additional freedom to
perform and sing as well as helping to recreate the familiar rich sound of
the big hits. This arrangement afforded “A Little Bit Me A little Bit You”
a full textural sound, enhanced by superb harmonies from the group. On
“Goin’ Down” Micky left his drum kit, took center stage, and with much
gusto danced his way Davy-style through a powerful performance. Was there a
hint that his voice may not hold out to the end of the show? Not to be
outdone “Valleri” gave Davy,” Mr Entertainment”, excuse to perform an
hilarious drag routine complete with hidious Elvis-print trousers.

“Listen To The Band” seamlessly incorporated a verse of Porpoise Song
making it a little bit Mike, a little bit Micky (shades of “A Day In The
Life”). Peter had left the group when the song was originally
recorded,well, he’s on it now! A nice sight.

The atmosphere had remained upbeat throughout. With “Daydream Believer” it
became magical. A twinkling star background enhanced the moment. With
everyone standing and singing along it was the perfect song on which to
close the set.

Davy had quickly slipped into a Manchester United shirt for the occasion.
On the back, “Jones”,number?” 7A” of course. Not sure about the team. He’s
back home tonight so we’ll forgive him. Leaving the stage on such a high
note, inevitably had us demanding our encore.

To our delight they Monkee-walked back on stage. The four of them,
unaccompanied, belted out “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” (surely one of
the greatest B-sides ever). The finale ,”Pleasant Valley Sunday” ensured
the show closed the way it had begun. Micky put in 110%, his voice finally
sounding strained as the evening’s committment began to tell. Not that this
affected the ecstatic reaction, Davy’s beaming face betraying his delight
at his triumphant homecoming.”United!” he shouted, greated by a barrage of
cheers and boos. “There are some Manchester City fans out there” joked
Peter. Over here,Peter, over here.

Davy spotted someone he knew at the front. His thumbs up and smile said it
all. Davy, Micky, Peter, and Mike, thanks for a great SHOW.

The ‘M’ word? Manufactured? Forget it. Make that Magnificent.

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