Monday, July 18, 2011

Hey! Hey!

Anyone familiar with this blog knows that I love the Beatles and always will. There was a brief period in the late 1960s, however, when my affection for the Fabs was rivaled by four other lads: The Monkees, the pop-rock group who (for any of you non-baby-boomers) had a prime-time TV show from 1966 until 1968.

The Monkees TV show was NBC’s response to the Beatles’ wildly popular movie A Hard Day’s Night. But unlike the Beatles, The Monkees group was specifically created for the TV show. Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork all auditioned to become part of the band and, therefore, the show. They were supposed to be singers and actors, not musicians or songwriters.

Although they were derisively called “The Pre-Fab Four” by unkind critics, my sister and I loved The Monkees and their music. I especially adored Micky who, like John Lennon (still my favorite Beatle), was the group’s defacto leader. My sister liked Davy, the “cute one;” but then again, Paul McCartney was always her favorite Beatle, so no surprise there. Getting ready for the show every week, I would change into my best outfit—and maybe even wear a little lipstick—before sitting down to watch my heroes. I was 12 years old.

I’m not sure what happened to The Monkees after their TV show was canceled, but other things in my life became far more important. Then about 20 years ago, they played as part of an oldies concert following a Padres baseball game in San Diego. I tried to storm the stage, yelling “MICKY!! MICKY!!,” but, of course, wasn’t allowed onto the field. Fast-forward to 10 years ago when Micky and Davy began touring together and played a short set at Disney’s California Adventure theme park. I was much more restrained, but thrilled nonetheless to hear them sing their top-10 hits. I thought for sure they’d never play together again.

Not so! As soon as I read that Micky, Davy and Peter were appearing at the Greek Theatre this past weekend, I bought tickets for Tim and me. The majority of the audience was definitely within our demographic as middle-aged people sitting around us reminisced about their teen years. There was no opening act, so I wondered how The Monkees were going to fill a two-hour concert by themselves. Soon enough a large screen came to life, showing silly 1960s Monkees commercials for Kool-Aid and Kellogg’s cereal. Then, at 8:02PM, the back-up band started playing as the three Monkees emerged, singing “(Take the) Last Train to Clarksville,” while footage from the TV show was shown overhead. Suddenly we were all teenagers again! The audience went wild.

Micky, Davy and Peter looked great and, for the most part, sounded good. But most wonderful was the continuous feed of Monkees TV show footage screened at the back of the stage. The Monkees may never have been as talented as the Beatles, but they were certainly much more beautiful. No wonder I dressed up to watch them every Monday might.

The guys performed their greatest hits (and more!) for over 2 hours. By the end everyone was standing, singing and, yes, even crying. OK, I was the only one crying, but we all had a wonderful time.


Raven said...

Peter....I was crazy about Peter!

But, musically I think Mickey was the best. I loved his unique voice.

Does Mike not perform anymore?

Cyn said...

To answer Raven's question, Mike doesn't need to tour because his mother, who invented White-Out, left him an estate worth millions of dollars. He was very prominent in the videos shown at the concert, plus his name was mentioned once or twice. So I'm assuming he's not person non grata among the other band members.

Peter, whom I believe has had an up-and-down history of substance abuse (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong), played his old ditzy character and did a lot of speaking, which surprised me. I was expecting Micky to take the biggest lead, but he didn't talk much. In fact, it was Davy who really was the evening's ringleader. BTW, Davy still does all the same dance moves (e.g., "the skate") and looked just fabulous. It was weird hearing him talk about his grandkids.

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