The Monkees at the State Theatre, 11/15/12
|Photo By Steve Cohen|
State Theatre, Minneapolis
November 15, 2012
The Monkees were determined to make their sold-out performance at the State Theatre on Thursday night a sunny, psychedelic affair, despite the palpable absence of Davy Jones, who died earlier this year. And it was thrilling to see Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Michael Nesmith (making his first U.S. appearance with the Monkees since 1969) on stage together again, as the band gave the audience a playful audio/visual guided tour of a simpler, more innocent time during their uplifting but uneven 110-minute performance.
The show was certainly steeped in nostalgia, and while images of the young members played during the show's exuberant introduction (and continued throughout the show), Dolenz, Tork, and Nesmith obviously have aged, even though to most fans they will always be the fresh-faced teen idols that they were on-screen in the '60s and '70s. After the seven-piece backing band (featuring Micky's little sister Coco on backing vocals and Mike's son Christian on guitar) served up a medley of familiar melodies as the crowd filed in, the stage darkened as the three Monkees took to the stage to a loud, lasting ovation, as the aging audience slowly rose to their feet.
The show started with a rollicking version of the Monkees' first single, "Last Train to Clarksville," with clips from the corresponding episode playing out behind the group. Micky's voice was in fine form straight from the start, and his outsized personality would carry much of the show. "That's the one that started it all," Dolenz exclaimed after the song drew to a festive close. "Welcome to the evening, an evening with the Monkees." And indeed, most of the crowd were there to recapture those moments of bliss that came from watching the TV show, while singing along to these songs that soundtracked their youth.
Nesmith assumed lead vocals on "Papa Gene's Blues," giving the song a dusty vibrancy that rang throughout the hall. And while Mike's vocals didn't hold up throughout the performance, many fans in the audience were getting a glimpse of the talented songwriter on stage for the very first time at this show, and his added presence certainly went a long way to the venue being sold-out. Tork took over on a perky "Your Auntie Grizelda," and Peter certainly played the role of Ringo throughout the show, adding moments of comedy and an occasional innocuous song, but mostly staying out of the way while trying to fit in with the groove.
|Photos By Steve Cohen|
The show hit its highpoint early on, as the band added a psychedelic twist to "She" as Dolenz elegantly carried the song, while "Sweet Young Thing" was given a folksy, Americana thump as colorful old pictures of the band were projected behind them. Dolenz then took to the microphone to humorously introduce the next number, "We've got one for you from that great songwriter, Neil Diamond. And I just want all the kids in the crowd to know -- I see one right there, unless you're a midget (as Nesmith chimed in, "Don't you scare that child"). We did this song a long time before Shrek." And, as a montage of magazine covers featuring the band were projected behind them, the group delivered a buoyant rendition of "I'm A Believer" which got most of the crowd dancing and singing along.
Micky danced around the stage during a rocking version of "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone," which proved to be one of the night's highlights, as Dolenz poured so much of himself into the song that he was visibly out of breath as it came to a close. The stage darkened again for the first of three video tributes to Davy during the set, as "I Wanna Be Free" played over the speakers as wistful images of Jones strolling along the beach and playing in the ocean were projected on the screen. These glimpses of the charismatic singer only accentuated his absence, as everyone in the crowd missed him in their own way.