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In which I flail incoherently

So... forty-five years ago or thereabouts, a slightly insane group of TV execs playing on the success of the Beatles put together a band consisting of a British ex-jockey, a former child actor, a hippie guitarist who'd been washing dishes in a coffee-house, and the guy whose mother invented Liquid Paper.

Last night the Monkees' latest reunion tour came to South Bend, Indiana, and by a ridiculous string of lucky happenstances, my mom and I landed centre-orchestra seats for a grand total of less than $27 each. XD

It was awesome. I chose not to bring my camera (I have this thing where if I'm taking pictures I'm not really paying attention to what's happening at the moment, and I wanted to enjoy the show), so there are no pictures, but there is much FLAILSQUEE under the cut.

It was a two-hour show, more or less - no opening act, just the three Monkees (Mike's chosen not to join them this time) and their eight-piece backup band, playing and singing a huge number of their songs back-to-back with occasional breaks for clowning around. ;-)

The tone of the evening was more or less set when the group's stage manager (is that the right word? Or would "wrangler" be more apropos, lol) prefaced his announcement that there'd be no opening act with the remark "Back when the Monkees were on the road in the '60s, there was a talented young guitarist from Seattle that they liked to have open for them. Unfortunately, Jimi Hendrix was not able to be with us this evening." And then the guys came out on the stage, and (once the squeeing and whistling died down a bit) Davy said "I'm Davy's father; Davy will be out on the stage in a minute" - to which Peter added "Me too. I'll be out in a minute too." *cue laughter and more squee*

The entire show was that sort of mix of humor, nostalgia - the audience (a packed house, btw) was full of hardcore Monkees geeks like me or worse ;-) - and pure awesome. I HAD A FANTASTIC TIME. *flails*

The guys are really looking good, considering that Peter's got to be almost 70 and Davy and Micky are in their mid-to-late sixties. They're all still extraordinarily fit, though of course they've thickened out a bit; there was a lot of rocking out all round, and at one point Davy donned a white suit and reprised one of his dances from "Head" (with the original footage playing on the background screen, even).

Davy Jones barely looks a day older than fifty - he's gotten stocky and round-shouldered, but he still moves like the same little music-hall song-and-dance man he always was. I love the way his voice has matured (let me rephrase that, I LOOOOOOVE it): it's got a lot more precision and control than his '60s work, plus he's using his natural Sindarin Mancunian accent rather than the Artful Dodger "Mockney" he auditioned with and didn't really drop on the show.

Peter Tork, who's my favorite of the Monkees (I'm a big fan of all three who were here, but... well, comments about "my type" to the left, lol), still seems as skinny as ever, though that awesome floppy black velvet shirt with silver frogging probably helped. *g* He looks startlingly like a lot of other aging hippie guys I've known, with the straw-stack blond hair and old-guy dimples, and makes me wonder if they were all that gorgeous when they were young. ;-) Also his haaaaaaands.

(Comments to the left, I said. *laughs*)

Micky Dolenz is almost completely bald - he wore a fedora for most of the show (it works well with his squinty gangster eyes and general Cagney impersonation) - and he really should have shaved better, because his loooong chin is still his dominant feature. His voice has deepened and mellowed quite a bit since the '60s, when he had such a high tenor range I can barely match it on soprano; it's also gotten LOUD. Really loud. My mum was like "Why did they give him a microphone?" *g*

I'm sure I missed a lot of the by-play, especially between Micky and Davy while I was watching Peter, but... those guys were like a three-ring circus. The name "Monkees" was well bestowed. IT WAS EPIC. :D

First Most Awesome Moment of the show for me: okay, my favorite Monkees song ever is "Papa Gene's Blues". You probably don't know it by title, but it goes in part "I have no more than I did before, but now I've got all that I need, for I love you and I know you love me". Anyway - so because Mike (who originally sang it) was not there, Peter sang that one. MY FAVORITE MONKEE SINGING MY FAVORITE SONG LIVE IN CONCERT. Yes, I squeed, LIKE A STEAM WHISTLE. ;-)

(Also Peter has a fantastic voice. He got so badly screwed over on their original recording run; he only got to do lead vocals on one song, "Auntie Grizelda", and it really didn't show off his talents well. I've always wanted to hear him sing something else and see if he was as good as I thought he might be. HE DEFINITELY IS.)

I also really, really loved what they did with the lights on that song and some of the other ones with an "I love you" theme: they had spotlights facing the audience that they'd turn up when they got to lines like "I love you and I know you love me", and the way it was handled, it just really felt like a tribute to all of us crazy fans and how our insanity dedication has let the Monkees phenomenon last this long.

On that note: partway through the show, during one of the little breaks, Peter made this announcement: "I'm noticing that a lot of you have cameras. Now, I know some of those cameras take video, and I know you're sending those videos to your friends and maybe planning to put them up on YouTube. And I'd just like to say--" solemn scoldy-face here--"that we have no problem with that whatsoever." (Cue loud squees from various YouTubing fans and also one non-filming fan of fair use law in the thirteenth row.) "And if you manage to make a little money from it - that's still not a problem. All we ask is, if you find a way to make a lot of money... will you please tell us how you did it, because we never got a clue!" :D

(HE IS STILL SO DANG CUTE. *g* And I love that the horseplay wasn't all directed toward making him the fool, as it used to be; it was pretty evenly balanced, with maybe a little heavier toward leaning on Davy, because Davy's still the fan's sweetheart and apparently willing to take it. There was a moment at the beginning of "Daydream Believer", after the "It's 'cause I'm short, I know" gag, where Davy remarked "I'd like to dedicate this song to this lady in the front row: she's only seen the top of my head this whole show, and she's been sitting down!" They are all so adorkable.)

Second Most Awesome Moment of the show for me: Peter played the banjo. He plays about a dozen instruments, I think, and for most of the show he was on keyboard, bass, or vocals - but banjo was his first instrument IIRC, and IMO it's still the one he's best at. He is amazing. So when he pulled out the banjo for "What Am I Doin' Hangin' Round", I was a Very Happy Fangirl.

(And then when Davy, who was sort of emceeing - he is such a great showman, really - shushed the backup band and just had us all sing along with them on one of the last choruses? SO MUCH AWESOME. I mean, we'd all been singing along ever since "I'm a Believer", which was the opener, because we couldn't help it, but to be told to do it! :D)

And... you know, it just kept on being awesome. Even on some of the songs I don't like so well, such as "Auntie Grizelda", the horseplay and clowning were so well done as to make them really enjoyable; Peter sang that one, and pretty much mimed a lot of the lyrics. Cracked us all up. He's so epic as a live performer - I can see why he and Davy went back (separately) to live small-house gigging after the Monkees broke up.

(Also on "Shades of Gray", which is an insanely pretty song though I do not get on well with the lyrics? Peter played the French horn solo on that one. SO AMAZING. And he mimed some of the lyrics to that one too - and then at the end, on the last "shades of graaay", he started messing with Davy's (probably dyed, dark) hair. LOL! And then Davy pointed at Peter's (very gray) beard and they started mock-scuffling till Micky broke them up. I loved that.)

And Davy did name-callouts to some of their most famous and best songwriters, causing us to squee. It was really just such a lovely tribute to everything that made them what they are, not just a "here we are again, aren't we awesome" thing.
And Micky performed "Goin' Down", both singing and dancing, with Peter and Davy rocking out on bass and six-string guitar in the background (and jumping in the air toward the end, yet).

And then after the "Head" retrospective (they did "Can You Dig It" and "The Porpoise Song" and Davy's dance number), and after Peter sang "Love Is Understanding" (which I love massively, and he sang it beautifully, and that was the third highlight of the evening for me), and after a few other songs, Micky did a little bit of a speech that led into "Last Train to Clarksville".

From then on, for about the last third or quarter of the show, the entire auditorium was on our feet, dancing and yelling and singing along to a tour-de-force of the Monkees' greatest hits. It was EPICALLY AMAZING FUN. I am still not sure it didn't permanently damage my hearing (I had earplugs, but being young and foolhardy, didn't use them), and I threw my knees out of joint bouncing, but it was worth it.

And then at the end, Davy introduced all the members of the backup band and said how great they all were, and told us we'd been a lovely audience, and they did a closing medley starting with "Listen to the Band", which amused me. Then Micky sang "Pleasant Valley Sunday", and the very last song of the evening was "I'm a Believer" again, with everyone but one drummer up at the front of the stage playing and singing. I thought that was sweet.

Then the guys went offstage, with much clowning that involved all trying to be the last one off, and each breaking away from the other two's escort to run across the stage by himself and be cheered for. (I fear I was pretty darn hyper at that point; my steam-whistle squees probably didn't help the absurdly loud ambient noise level.) Then the lights finally went up and my first Real Concert was over.

(And the very last song-reference of the evening was the familiar riff from "Star Collector". I'm still trying to work that one out and see if it comes to a compliment, lol.)

This entry has been crossposted from http://curuchamion.dreamwidth.org/94195.html. You can comment here or there - you can comment anywhere! (sorry *g*)


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 30th, 2011 12:27 am (UTC)
Thank you, thank you for the wonderful recounting! I almost felt like I'd been there. It sounds like you had an absolutely amazing and memorable evening. And darn, I don't have my Davy icon loaded...
Jun. 30th, 2011 01:01 pm (UTC)
You're welcome!!! :D I had a FANTASTIC evening. Glad I could share the awesome!

(And I have no Monkees icons at all. *sadface* *goes hunting for adorkable baby!Peter icons...*)
Jun. 30th, 2011 03:09 am (UTC)
Sounds like so much fun. I'd love to see them in concert. I'll have to look and see if they're likely to come out my way.

Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I can just see the antics.
Jun. 30th, 2011 12:59 pm (UTC)
DO IIIIIIIIT. Here's their schedule. If you can make it, it's SO TOTALLY WORTH IT. :D

You're welcome! :DDD
Jun. 30th, 2011 02:36 pm (UTC)
Really enjoyed reading this, I used to love the Monkees TV show when I was a kid, so I did some flailing of my own :D
Jun. 30th, 2011 02:42 pm (UTC)
Oh wow, that must have been amazing! I have to confess that I did see them in concert round about 1970 in London. The only time I actually stood on the back of a chair just to get a better view! Glad to hear that they are still going strong!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


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