The Monkees, City Hall 19.5.11
OK, confession time; I need to unburden myself. I used to love the Monkees.
In fact I was Peter Tork when we used to ‘perform’ for our classmates with cut-out wooden guitars and cardboard drums. There; I’ve said it.
Perhaps it’s because of that, that I’ve avoided their re-union tours up until now, but in these revisionist times it’s now possible for everyone to look at the Monkees anew.
If you look beyond ‘I’m a Believer’ and the other hit singles, hidden away on their albums were some brilliantly written, expertly played pop songs. Well, if Neil Diamond, Carole King or Harry Nilsson were writing them, and you could ring up Neil Young or Steven Stills to come over and play session guitar, what could go wrong?
They recorded 9 albums from 1966 to 70, briefly outsold the Stones and the Beatles combined and left dozens of gems unissued (until recently), but then the wheels came off the Monkeemobile. Their movie ‘Head’ went so far over their audience’s heads, that despite the soundtrack containing some of their best songs, they were finished.
Those songs were rightly admitted into the hall of fame tonight, as they played them live for the very first time. Add to this songs chosen by their still devoted fans in an internet poll, and those hit singles and the show came alive. For this 45th anniversary tour provided over two hours of entertainment which was so much better than anyone could have reasonably expected it to be.
(Video by bradfordtimeline)
After the show had opened with ‘I’m a Believer’, Dolenz said ‘Thank you Detroit’. Ah, he’s being wacky and zany again. ‘I’m Davy’s dad, Davy will be out in a minute’ said Jones. ‘We’ve had some requests, but we’re going to sing anyway’. You get the idea I’m sure. Cheesy, nostalgic but most of all but great fun.
Despite Mike Nesmith’s absence, songs such as ‘What Am I Doing Hanging Round?’, ‘Listen To The Band’ and ‘Circle Sky’ kept his contribution intact. ‘I’m Not Your Steppin Stone’, ‘Words’, ‘Shades of Grey’ were all superbly performed, alongside the more familiar hits such as ‘Vallerie’, ‘Last Train to Clarkesville’ and ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’.
There must have been about forty songs, perfectly sequenced, accompanied by videos, costume changes, a belly-dancer and Davy Jones doing that funny dance he does.
The musicianship was faultless, with an 8-piece backing band supporting them. Mickey played drums quite well, Peter proved an excellent banjo player, and Davy, well Davy had a tambourine. And he did that dance again.