The Monkees: still zany after all these years...

click to enlarge The Monkees: still zany after all these years... - Jeff O'Kelley
Jeff O'Kelley
The Monkees: still zany after all these years...

Before we begin, full disclosure: while I should have been scribbling the names of ALL 40 songs The Monkees performed live this past Saturday night, I was a little overcome by the sheer joy and nostalgia of the experience. I felt like a child again, reliving the music of a band I've loved since I was about 3 years old, singing every word of every song they played, and just enjoying the hell out of the entire show. I'm lucky that a good friend of mine had the wits about him to take notes while I was busy flailing about and loving on it...

And now, onto my objective review of the show. [Text by Gabe, photos by Jeff]

A night of nostalgia, kitsch, puns, comedy, memories and laughter. No, I'm not describing sitting around watching family home movies. I'm talking about seeing the Monkees on their 45th Anniversary World Tour stop in Clearwater this past weekend. A collective smile was permanently worn by all 2,180 concertgoers as Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork (Michael Nesmith has again chosen to sit out this tour with his former bandmates) clowned, joked and sang their way through all the hits they've become known for since the band's 1966 breakout.

A crystal clear video montage of the band's earliest days greeted a very vocal crowd as the lights of the hall dimmed. And as the three remaining Monkees ran onstage, the hysteria of the crowd almost rivaled what would have burst from an adoring, frenzied, late '60s mob. Opening with one of their biggest hits and most-well known songs, "I'm A Believer," Micky, Peter and Davy made their way from one side of the stage to the other ... maybe a bit more slowly than they would have in 1967, but nonetheless, the reaction they received during their initial stroll across the stage still earned a pretty impressive reaction from the sold-out, mostly 50+ audience.

Steamrolling through an impressive range of hits and not-so-obvious choices, it's safe to say that no one in the crowd could have possibly walked away disappointed with the night's setlist. The band covered all their hit singles, the band also dug deep and pulled out some obscurities. Where it would have been totally acceptable and understandable to keep it strictly a hits-only show, a nod of appreciation has to be given to the band for opting to include material that might not have been familiar to casual fans.

Splitting the night into two sets separated by a short intermission, the trio, who were supported by an impressive eight-piece backing band, split the vocal duties and took turns bringing their respective songs to life. While Davy's vocals were a little hard to hear at times and Peter's were occasionally muffled, Micky's came across loud and clear — sometimes a bit too loud and clear. There were instances where Dolenz seemed as if he were performing operatic versions of his songs, but the crowd didn't seem to mind a bit. There was a lot of singing, screaming, dancing and excitement being beamed from the overzealous crowd, which seemed to propel the three performers into higher gear.

As Mickey, the ham of the band, joked and chided (purposely addressing the crowd by using the incorrect city: "Hello, New York!"), it almost felt like a real-live episode of the band's wonderful 1966-1968 television series. It's still alluded to that Peter is the scatterbrained dimwit and Davy is the dreamy, stars-in-his-eyes romantic. That's how the individual members have always been perceived and why should we think of them any differently today? It's this sort of nostalgia and fondness that the fans of the "pre-fab four" have always remembered the band for.

Opening the second set of the night with six songs from the oft-maligned, surreal drug-trip feature length film and accompanying soundtrack album, Head, was a pretty bold move. The movie and the album came along at a time when most pre-pubescent fans were starting to shy away from the goofy antics of the band and, truth be told, those who'd still stuck with the band had no idea what to make of the stream-of-consciousness film. With the 1968 project, the band tackled politics, world music and drugs in one fell swoop and needless to say, the reaction was more than mixed. What a cool move, though, to revisit the film that's now earned a loyal cult following and perform the trippy "As We Go Along" in the same set that contained more fun lightweight material like the band's initial hit "Last Train To Clarksville."

Every bit a heavy dose of nostalgia as a brave look back at overlooked material, Saturday night's Monkees concert proved to be a refreshing blast of fun and excitement for everyone in attendance.

Full Set List

Set 1:
I’m A Believer
Mary Mary
The Girl I Knew Somewhere
When Love Comes Knocking At Your Door
Randy Scouse Git
Your Auntie Grizelda
It’s Nice To Be With You
I Don’t Think You Know Me At All
Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)
Words
Cuddly Toy
Papa Gene’s Blues
Listen To The Band
That Was Then, This Is Now
All Of Your Toys
What Am I Doin’ Hangin’ Round
Someday Man
Sometime In The Morning
Valleri
No Time

Set 2:
Circle Sky
Can You Dig It
As We Go Along
Long Title
Porpoise Song
Daddy’s Song
For Pete’s Sake
She
A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You
Shades of Gray
Last Train To Clarksville
Goin’ Down
I Wanna Be Free
Saturday’s Child
She Hangs Out
I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone
Daydream Believer
-encore-
Pleasant Valley Sunday
I’m A Believer (reprise)

About The Authors

Gabe Echazabal

I was born on a Sunday Morning.I soon received The Gift of loving music.Through music, I Found A Reason for living.It was when I discovered rock and roll that I Was Beginning To See The Light.Because through music, I'm Set Free.It's always helped me keep my Head Held High.When I started dancing to that fine, fine...
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