Sunday, August 4, 2013
Concert review: Monkees took crowds back to the glory days at Verizon
The gist of the gig was to conjure up warm memories of an era gone by, of carefree youth, and of effervescent pop music.
GRAND PRAIRIE Nostalgia wields redemptive power.
It was very telling that during the entire two-hour concert performance by the Monkees Friday night at Verizon Theatre, the video screen above the stage played clips of the group’s famed late ’60s television show, commercials for Kool Aid and Rice Krispies, outtakes from the series, vintage musical performances and scenes from the trippy 1968 film Head. Even while present-day Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork, backed by a seven-piece band, performed song after song, those images provided a strong connection to the past.
The tour, dubbed “A Midsummer’s Night With the Monkees,” follows the well-received short trek Nesmith, Dolenz, and Tork did last November and December. That was the first time the Dallas-raised Nesmith had performed onstage with the Monkees since 1997. It of course had a bittersweet edge since fourth Monkee Davy Jones died in February 2012. The 24-date jaunt started July 15 in Port Chester, New York and runs through August 18 in Portland, Oregon.
The gist of the gig was to conjure up warm memories of an era gone by, of carefree youth, and of effervescent pop music. But Nesmith, Dolenz, and Tork were in charge. Particular attention was paid to 1967′s Headquarters, the first album to showcase substantive songwriting and musicianship from the actual band members as opposed to outside professional tunesmiths and session players. So once again, 47 years later, the Monkees are still trying to prove they weren’t merely puppets plucked to star in a TV comedy series with music.
Nesmith handled most of the vocals on the seven Headquarters tracks. He was particularly effective during “You Told Me,” “Sunny Girlfriend,” and “You Just May Be the One.” It is these songs, not to mention Tork’s turn on “Early Morning Blues and Greens” and Dolenz’s campy rendition of “Randy Scouse Git” complete with timpani drum and poncho, that took the Monkees on a psychedelic trip. A year later came Head, the acclaimed soundtrack album to the head-spinning flick that would forever change the perception of the Monkees. It was great to hear Dolenz on the ethereal “Porpoise Song,” which was recently used in an episode of "Mad Men," and Nesmith on “Circle Sky.”
But naturally the crowd reaction was strongest for the big hits. “Last Train to Clarksville” opened the performance, while “I’m a Believer” and “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” came early in the set. Much later “Daydream Believer” was a mixed bag. That song featured Jones on lead vocals, so Dolenz told us that there was much discussion as to how it was going to be done onstage. They decided to use the audience. Dolenz brought up a 10-year-old girl to sing the tune with him. Before long, he called on the crowd for repeated takes on the chorus.
Nothing wrong with that per se, it just proved to be a bit anticlimactic on such a huge song. But again, this is all about nostalgia. The Monkees are older now, the voices certainly sturdy enough but not as strong. We need to all feel a part of the glory days. We need to imagine that Nesmith, Dolenz, and Tork are ageless, timeless. That redemptive power packs a wallop.
See more stories in:
- Photos: In DFW show, Backstreet Boys take themselves way too seriously
- 11 ridiculous photos of the Backstreet Boys, just before their Dallas show
- So You Think You Can Dance tour waltzes through North Texas November 9
- Deck the halls with Donny & Marie this Christmas in North Texas
- Concert review: American Idol Live put spotlight on great singing