One thing was abundantly career last night at The Town Hall, there will be no farewell to The Monkees till Micky Dolenz is ready and Micky Dolenz isn’t ready. The Farewell is to that tall glass of water, Texan Mike Nesmith -who looked like a cross between the ghost of Nez yet to come and Colonel Sanders after a stint in Siberia. At 78 years of age, Nez is here to look back at his years with the Monkee with an assist from his “brother from another mother” Dolenz . Nez can’t really sing anymore and Micky is so attuned to Nez’s needs that he sings with him whenever the need occurs on Mike’s lead so you don’t always hear the stretch.
In 2021, it is crystal clear that the edicts of the hippies -the agricultural based, Indian theological, dream of a compassionate world- was a resounding failure in the political arena, and 55 years later with the country rushing towards a dictatorship, the Monkees peace loving vibe is welcome, and with the greatest Monkee of them all, Davy Jones, and the on the spectrum weirdo Peter, both dead, it is left to Micky and Mike to turn back the clocks.
Or not. The Monkees farewell that came to The Town Hall, a two hours plus, 31 song (in 2016 they performed 39 songs), backpages speciality of the house, was less a nostalgia for the four popstars TV show and more a standing back to see everything as clearly as they can, from “Last Train To Clarksville” in 1966 to “Me And Magdalena” in 2016. This was not the Monkees of 2011 where I wrote (here): “(They) began with their 10 piece back up band playing an instrumental medley of Monkee hits while the original Hollywood Reporter ad looking for four actors to play an imaginary rock band flashed on a screen, before the Monkees audition tapes and finally excerpts from the show. This was followed by a rambunctious “I’m A Believer” -three Monkees (a fourth -guess which, failed to make it) center stage, and finally Micky’s shout out to the loving audience, “HELLO CHICAGO”. The 2012 Monkees were mining Headquarters and resurrecting Head with Nesmith back and the band mourning Davy (here). The 2016 tour found Peter Tork at his musical height (here). In 2021 Monkees were both a tribute to Nez, and a type of re-grouping for Micky (and his beloved sister Coco singing background). Last night there was no close circuit TV and a pass wasn’t made at the TV Monkees. Rather, last night Davy had never seemed deader and Peter’s multi-instrumentalist had come full circle to where the Monkees returned to not performing their own music. The back-up band did the musical heavy lifting, except for a big bass one Micky didn’t even drum
Nez is no longer the deeply ironic Nez of the past, in 2018 he cancelled a Monkees tour because he required quadruple bypass heart surgery, and had been hospitalized for over a month.Three years later he started the tour using a cane and he can’t really sing, his lead on “Love Is Only Sleeping” was excruciating and the “While I Cried” mixed bathos with pathos and was sad and not for all the right reasons. Though it didn’t really matter because -and I’ve seen Micky many times, Dolenz was a towering singer all night long.
The best thing about the night was the closeness between Micky and Mike, Micky carried Mike for two hours, paid tribute to the Country Americana pop song writers skills (his current album is Dolenz Sings Nesmith), and made certain Nez looked real swell. It felt like Micky figuring his next time out, Micky Sings The Monkees… And More. Gone are so many Davy moments, no “Cuddly Toy.” or “Look Out Here Comes Tomorrow” or “I Wanna Be Free”. And while it is true Micky used to sing it, no “Theme To The Monkees” either. It seemed like the Monkees on a hinge. And yet it remained a good set that didn’t have me leaving during the break, moments were blindingly great, “Sunny Girlfriend” is a towering pop track, Micky sings debatably the one time the Monkees trounced The Beatles, I mean “Ticket To Ride” Beatles, the stupendous “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You’ with all his heart, and if Davy’s “Daydream Believer” was a disappointment-well, not that big a disappointment. From the early “Last Train To Clarksville” to the “I’m A Believer” finale, Dolenz was exceptional.
It was a moving evening that against all odds did the job it was made to do We haven’t heard the last of The Monkees in concert but it feels like the end of Nez’s career and if it is I am happy he decided to come out and show his face one more time.
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