Long before the term ‘boy band’ existed, The Monkees certainly did and at one stage in the late 60s, sold more albums than The Beatles and Rolling Stones combined. The Monkees sold over 75 million records during their 50-year career, and have maintained a legion of fans to this day.
Original members Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz have kept the legacy going with their 50th Anniversary Tour, which is as much a celebration of the group’s longevity as much as it is a trip down memory lane.
Notably absent though were Michael Nesmith, who last performed with The Monkees in September this year in what he said would be his last performance with the band, and the late Davy Jones, who passed away in 2012. Nonetheless, the songs remain the same and the use of multimedia helps to evoke memories of the band’s journey as ‘actors pretending to be a fictitious band, who then became a band.’ Montages of the group are played, some in synch to the song being played, and numerous pictures of the group as young lads flood the screen as Tork & Dolenz play to an adoring crowd. Seeing them in their youthful prime on screen and watching them perform in their 70’s is an emotional experience, and their mutual respect for the absent band members is evident as they pay homage through explaining the origin of the songs, and regularly glance at the video screen, reminiscing at their heyday themselves. I’m pretty sure I saw Dolenz wipe away a tear from his eyes more than once throughout the evening.
But if you think this is a couple of old guys trying to hang on to their youth, then think again. Tork, who is almost 75, moved like a 20-year-old as he strutted dance moves that would make James Brown blush. Dolenz was as masterful and energetic on drums as he was in his prime, and both members emanated amazing energy and commitment to their songs, both new and old. They often joked about their age, and although they might be in the twilight of their careers, they gave great performances both individually and collectively. Their anecdotes and quips throughout the show added to the nostalgic air, and if the first half of the show wasn’t already energetic enough, they hit the stage after a brief interval with a psychedelic 60’s set that was just groovy. Watching them perform on live with the multimedia backdrop was a surreal experience, as it felt like we’d literally stepped back in time to the swinging sixties- the house was rocking!
They played tracks from their new album ‘Good Times’, a few of their more obscure songs like D.W Washburn, their hit songs including Stepping Stone, Daydream Believer, Pleasant Valley Sunday, and saved I’m a Believer for the grand finale. Of this song, Dolenz said ‘We were doing this song long before Shrek!”
It was great to see a blend of older, original fans in the audience along with a fair representation of younger fans, who were the first to get out of their seats and dancing when the mood took them.
After a solid evening of memories, music, and good times, Tork and Dolenz introduced their exceptionally good band, thanked the audience, and then strolled off stage, arm in arm. That image struck a chord for its subtle significance- they weren’t merely actors, or just a band, but friends on life’s journey sharing good times until the very end. It’s that picture which, for me anyway, sums up who The Monkees were.
Tues 13 Dec- Perth Concert Hall W.A 8pm
Thurs 15 Dec- Enmore Theatre, Newtown NSW 8pm
Fri 16 Dec- Jupiters Hotel & Casino Theatre Broadbeach, QLD 8:30 PM