19 November 2016 (gig)
21 November 2016
The Monkees, who have truly made a grand comeback in 2016 to celebrate their 50th anniversary, have really returned in style!! Being their Silver anniversary, a tour was somewhat expected, but they outdid everyone’s expectations by releasing their first new album in two decades (the last being 1996's "Justus"), with a pop glistening gem in "Good Times." Critically lauded, and loved by the fans, it was the bands return to the Billboard Top 200 album chart in eons (peaking at #14 on the Billboard album charts, and even topping the magazines Vinyl Albums, reaching #1). Great production by Adam Schlesinger (and Andrew Sandoval on bonus cuts), "Good Times" embodies the classic pop thrills the band could always deliver, but does not sound dated at all (as their sound has proven to be enduring...much more so than several of their 60's piers). And while Micky Dolenz and Mike Nesmith man the lion’s share of lead vocals on the disc, it was a great tribute to include a track form the late Davy Jones track, "Love to Love," making this a true reunion of all the bands members (a la The Beatles', "Free As a Bird").
The bands current tour, which has been a successful one, performed on November 19, 2016 at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island. And while the 2016 touring version only includes Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork (Nesmith did pop up for a couple of shows, but stayed home to allegedly write his autobiography), they performed a stellar 31 song set which revisited the past hits, gallantly revived some lesser known gems, and event tore off a couple from "Good Times."
Dolenz, who was, with Jones, essentially the band lead vocalist, still has his pop friendly/blue eyed soul-ish vocal chops, sounded strong on "Last Train to Clarksville," "She," "That Was Then, This Is Now," and the ultra-unique "Randy Scouse Git" (which was penned by Dolenz). He even tackled the ballad, "Sometime in the Morning," making it sentimental, without any saccharine like aftertaste - and killed it on guitar-riff filled "The Girl I Knew Somewhere," a Nesmith composition, and just a near perfect pop song as you can get.
Tork was very active as well (playing multi-instruments, going from guitar to keyboards, and ever banjo) taking the co-lead on "Shades of Gray," (while the recorded voice of his late duet partner, Jones, was played via his original vocal recording), also, he dominated on the very cool cut from the groups cult classic flick, "Head," "Long Title: Do I Have to Do This All Over Again?," and he effortlessly took over for Nesmith’s lead, while plucking out some great banjo notes, on "What Am I Doin' Hangin' 'Round."
Together Dolenz and Tork unearthed their duet "Words", and also shared vocals on Jones' "Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)," while Dolenz impressed all with "Goin Down," and its myriad of lyrics with lighting speed delivery (in the midst of is a lyrically brilliant tale of being dumped, drunk and suicidal. Only to realize, among sobering up, that he does want to survive). During the song, an audience member came forward to dance in front of Dolenz and he gave her the microphone and she dazzled the crowd flawlessly taking over on the second chorus.
The encore ended perfectly with the tale of 60's suburban life in "Pleasant Valley Sunday" (penned by the ultra talented Carole King) and ending with their biggest hit (amongst a treasure trove of hits) "I'm A Believer." Prior to which, Dolenz humorously pointed out to the audience that they sang the song long before "Shrek."
It was great to have the Monkees so active this year. It was a shame that they neglected to celebrate their 40th anniversary in 2006, especially as that was around the time that Rhino Records did a phenomenal job of reissuing the bands original 4 albums - "The Monkees" (1966), "More of The Monkees" (1967), "Headquarters" (1967), and "Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd." (1967) - in deluxe double disc repackages, including stereo and mono versions of each disc and bonus cuts as well. Since Jones was still around, it would have been a great time to have capitalized on that momentum
While this may be the final chapter in the long, sometimes challenging, career of the so called pre-fab four, and if it is, the band can be very proud of going out so successfully.
But, with so much currently going for them, this might not be the end, just yet.