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Wednesday, 7 December 2016 |
From the moment we walked into The Palais Theatre there was a sense of excitement. The crowd, mostly in their 50s and 60s, were here to relive a very magical time in their youth. Many had brought their kids to share that moment in time and were queuing up at the merchandise stand to buy T-Shirts, CDs and even trademark The Monkees maracas.
While taking our seats we were treated to videos from the classic TV show that had in 1966 and 1967, made The Monkees the biggest band in the world outselling The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined.
The video screen began playing the shows opening titles and the instantly recognisable ‘(Theme From) The Monkees’. To loud applause and screams, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork appear on stage and launch into ‘Listen To The Band’ followed immediately by the band's first single ‘Last Train To Clarksville’ and ‘Saturday’s Child’ with Micky moving from centre stage to drums. The slick band have toured with The Monkees over the years. Comprised of guitarist and musical director Wayne Avers sporting a gloriously handpainted Vintage Summer of Love V6MRHDX Signature Guitar. Inspired by Jimi Hendrix and why not as the psychedelic rock god did support The Monkees on their 1967 tour.
The other band members include on bass guitar John Billings, keyboardist Dave Alexander and occasional melodia player, drummer Rich Dart and Micky’s sister Coco Dolenz singing background vocals with percussions.
For the next hour we got a string of classic Monkees hits played impeccably by this band along with Micky and Peter on vocals and various instruments. Davy Jones and Mike Nesmith were well represented on video with Davy even supplying some lead vocal via the WayBack Machine on ‘Shades Of Gray’ from their third album Headquarters. Amongst some of the on-stage banter we learnt that this album was their proudest moment, as they got to play on it rather than just sing. Peter told us “People said we couldn’t play our own instruments” indicating the guitar around his neck to huge applause, before adding “this is a rental.”
This was typical of the humourous stories they told and the good fun they were obviously having up on stage. This was not just a nostalgia tour it was one last salute to a great band who have an extraordinary catalogue of songs written by themselves and some of the finest songwriters of the time including Carole King, Neil Diamond, Neil Sedaka, Harry Nilsson and Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart.
Source: Monkees on YouTube
We were also treated to three songs from their new comeback album Good Times which, when released earlier this year, became their first album in forty-five years to debut in the Billboard Top 20 album chart. A remarkable achievement for the so-called "pre-fab four". The Andy Partridge (XTC) penned 'You Bring The Summer' being the highlight of the new songs performed, while on the large screen they played a brilliantly animated video of the Monkees frolic in their youthful heyday.
Way back in 1981, Peter Tork & The New Monks releases an obscure seven inch single titled "Peter's Back" which featured his bluegrass cover of Jackie Wilson's '(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher'.
Peter dons his well loved banjo and states that "he has transported American Appalachian Mountain ballads to Motown". In an impressive display of his banjo playing chops, Peter relished the moment playing this uplifting song and the crowd lap it up.
After a short intermission featuring more videos the band returned with ‘Mary Mary’ followed by three songs from the soundtrack to the movie Head including the glorious Carole King / Gerry Goffin penned ‘Porpoise Song (Theme From Head)’. During the final trippy instrumental part of the song, Micky does a bee line for the second drum kit on the stage and starts playing like a man possessed, while Peter is wailing away on his guitar. It's such a special moment of their set.
Source: Fan footage via YouTube
Halfway through '(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone', Peter comes to the front of the stage and delivers a classic rockstar guitar pose with legs akimbo, while doing the worst Gene Simmons of KISS imitation you have ever seen, complete with flapping tongue. Micky quickly quips "That is so gross" and immediately puts him back in his place. It was important that they added these slapstick moments into their performance.
A few more classics were finally followed by Davy, on the video screen, singing ‘Daydream Believer’ and although Micky had said “If you know the lyrics to this, please don't sing along as it puts us off." His comment receives a warm chuckle from the crowd and with that jaunty keyboard intro, everyone was singing and enthusiastically waving there arms in the air.
That was the end of the second set but after a short break we were treated to an encore with rousing renditions of ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’ and ‘I’m A Believer’ or as Micky introduces it "We sang this song long before Shrek did."
The Monkees delivered a show that both fulfilled the feeling of nostalgia in the audience and proved that they have one of the greatest musical legacies of the past fifty years.
Source: Fan footage via YouTube
Source: Harry Williams via Facebook
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