Hey, Hey It’s The Monkees … Finally
When the NBC sitcom “The Monkees” premiered, I was already a freshman at East Carolina College (now University) in Greenville, NC; and I wasn’t watching much television in the dorm. But I did listen to music — a lot of music — and I followed America’s answer to The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the other British invaders as The Monkees’ songs rocketed to the top of the U.S. charts and even outsold the Beatles and the Stones in the U.K.
Having already seen the Rolling Stones — with Brian Jones — and the Dave Clark Five in Reynolds Coliseum on the N.C. State University campus in Raleigh, I would have been glad all over to attend a Beatles concert, but as far as I know they never came closer to Raleigh than Norfolk, VA. The Monkees, too, were at the top of my must-see list, and it only took 47 years for that dream to come true, when AC Entertainment and Broadway Series South presented A Midsummer’s Night with The Monkees on July 23rd in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts.
The three surviving members of this made-for-television band — Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork — really rocked the house, starting their two-hour set with a rousing rendition of “Last Train to Clarksville” (written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart) and ending the evening with two invigorating encores: “Listen to the Band” (penned by Michael Nesmith)” and “Pleasant Valley Sunday” (written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King)! In-between, The Monkees performed vibrant versions of “I’m a Believer” (penned for The Monkees by Neil Diamond, but probably best known to younger audience members as the buoyant anthem on the soundtrack the 2001 DreamWorks Pictures production of Shrek) and “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” (Boyce and Hart), plus a number of choice selections from the Michael Nesmith songbook — including “Papa Gene’s Blues,” “You Told Me,” “Sunny Girlfriend,” and “Mary, Mary” — and other nifty numbers that the band made famous.
From the first note to the last, the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium audience was partying in their seats like it was 1999 — and they interrupted the multimedia show with several standing ovations! The band’s tribute to Davy Jones, who died of a heart attack on Feb. 29, 2012, touched many a heartstring. It included an excerpt from the band’s psychedelic 1968 feature film Head, in which the diminutive Jones sang “Daddy’s Song” (penned by Harry Nilsson). Then Micky Dolenz — who was in remarkably fine voice all night long — picked a particularly enthusiastic female audience member to sing lead on Jones’ signature song, “Daydream Believer” (written by John Stewart of The Kingston Trio), because — he said — that song now belongs to all of us in Monkee Nation.
In addition to Messrs. Dolenz, Nesmith, and Tork, A Midsummer’s Night with The Monkees features a bodacious backup band that includes musical director Wayne Avers (lead guitar), David Alexander (keyboards/acoustic guitar/backing vocals), John Billings (bass), Micky’s sister Coco Dolenz (backup vocals/percussion), Aviva Maloney (keyboards/reeds/wind), Rich Dart (drums), and Mike’s son Christian Nesmith (acoustic guitar). Avers added scorching guitar solos to a number of songs, and Maloney’s saxophone riffs were another highlight of an enchanted evening for Monkees fans in the Triangle.
All of us who remember “The Monkees” television series firsthand, and not from reruns, are older and grayer; and so are our American idols, who perhaps unwittingly created the “music video” and provided so much of the soundtrack for our collective youth. Finally seeing The Monkees live — even without Davy Jones — on July was a dream-come-true for many of us Baby Boomers and proof aplenty that Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork can still bring audiences to their feet. Monkee-mania will resurface everywhere their 2013 summer tour stops!
SECOND OPINION: July 26th New York, NY Guitar World interview with Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork, conducted by Damian Fanelli: http://www.guitarworld.com/interview-michael-nesmith-micky-dolenz-and-peter-tork-talk-monkees-summer-tour-headquarters-and-what-they-learned-jimi-hendrix; July 23rd Durham, NC Indy Week interview with Micky Dolenz, conducted by Jim Allen: http://www.indyweek.com/scan/archives/2013/07/23/the-monkees-understand-mickey-dolenz-on-the-bands-reunion; July 19th Raleigh, NC News & Observer preview by Roger Friedensen: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/07/18/3036392/the-monkees-raleigh-concert-will.html, July 16th New York, NY Rolling Stone preview by Rob Sheffield: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/the-monkees-return-with-michael-nesmith-20130716, April 29th interview with Micky Dolenz, conducted by Andy Greene: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/the-monkees-reveal-u-s-summer-tour-dates-20130429, April 1st interview with Michael Nesmith, conducted by Steve Appleford: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/q-a-michael-nesmith-on-solo-tour-and-being-the-difficult-monkee-20130401, and Nov. 9th review by Peter Holslin: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/monkees-delight-believers-in-reunion-tour-kickoff-20121109; and July 15th McLean, VA USA TODAY preview by Brian Mansfield: http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2013/07/14/monkees-on-the-road-again/2515371/ and April 29th preview by Brian Mansfield: http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2013/04/29/monkees-set-summer-tour/2121761/. (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the July 23rd Triangle Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2013/07/a-midsummers-night-with-the-monkees-stars-michael-nesmith-micky-dolenz-and-peter-tork/.)
A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT WITH THE MONKEES, starring original band members Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork (AC Entertainment and Broadway Series South, July 23 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Raleigh, NC).
AC Entertainment: http://acentertainment.com/.
Broadway Series South: http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/broadway-series-south.
A Midsummer’s Night with The Monkees (2013 summer tour): http://www.monkees.com/article/back-by-popular-demand-the-monkees-announce-summer-tour-a-midsummer-s-night-with-the-monkees and https://www.facebook.com/monkeestour (Facebook page).
The Monkees (group): http://www.monkees.com/ (official website), https://www.facebook.com/TheMonkees (Facebook page), https://twitter.com/MonkeesOfficial (Twitter page), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monkees (Wikipedia).
Davy Jones (vocals and tamborine): http://www.davyjones.net/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Davy_Jones_%28musician%29 (Wikipedia).
The Monkees (music videos): http://www.youtube.com/user/MisterMusicMan382?feature=watch (MisterMusicMan382′s YouTube Monkees music page).
The Monkees Archive (more music videos): http://www.youtube.com/user/TheMonkeesArchive?feature=watch. “The Monkees” (1966-68 television series): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monkees_%28TV_series%29 (Wikipedia) and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060010/ (Internet Movie Database).
[RUN HAS CONCLUDED.]
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Review, a FREE weekly e-mail arts newsletter. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Review.
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