Thebarton Theatre, Sun 11 Dec.
The Monkees (these days there’s just two of them that tour) are in town, as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations. The well-behaved, calmly seated crowd awaits the start of their show at Thebarton Theatre.
Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz arrive on stage, along with their five-piece backing ensemble, and launch into a version of Listen To The Band; aptly titled but a strange choice for an opener. The mix isn’t quite right but things improve pretty quickly as Last Train To Clarkesville gets audience heads bobbing. And, from there, the hits just keep on coming…
Most of the song selections are as expected; the bulk of the hits are featured as well as some lesser numbers that are somewhat signature tunes of either Dolenz or Tork eg Your Aunty Grizelda.
Both Monkees seem to be genuinely happy to be in Adelaide. Dolenz’ banter is fun and a little showbizzy, while Tork’s humour has an almost-avuncular quality that has most folks laughing along.
Vocally, the two do a good job on their “own” songs, as well as when singing numbers originally voiced by Mike Nesmith or the late Davy Jones. Jones’ recorded vocals are piped in for a performance of the beautiful Shades Of Grey; it works well and seems appropriate.
A constant stream of clips from the television show is projected onto the screen at the back of the stage. It’s almost a distraction, such is the enjoyment offered by viewing the big screen footage of the band members in their youthful prime.
Dolenz plays acoustic guitar and drums, while Tork quite comfortably moves from banjo to piano to electric guitar to acoustic guitar.
Most of the songs work very well. There’s the odd moment when the departure from the original recording seems too great, but it is only a minor quibble when terrific versions of songs like Mary, Mary and What Am I Doing Hangin’ ‘Round? are featured.
A sublime rendition of Porpoise Song (Theme From “Head”) demonstrates the enduring majesty of that particular song; quite possibly the Monkees’ high-water mark in terms of artistic output.
As the show nears its conclusion, the touring band is introduced to the crowd. Long-standing collaborators Coco Dolenz (backing vocals and percussion), Dave Alexander (keyboard and backing vocals), Wayne Avers (lead guitar and backing vocals), Rich Dart (drums) and John Billings (bass) have all played a significant role in recreating the special sound of the era, and the audience’s appreciation is reflected in the applause.
The climax of the evening is signalled by the recorded voice of Davy Jones leading the band into Daydream Believer, a song that has the crowd singing along, and the woman next to me reaching for her tissues.
Overall, this has been a properly decent concert, featuring two members of the world’s most famous manufactured pop group, some fine musicians, a host of truly brilliant songs and an all-pervading aura of a time when things were a little more innocent and magical, and we were all a little younger.
Image courtesy Peter Flierl