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Review: THE MONKEES – State Theatre 10 Dec 2016

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My memories of this band started early and left a deep and enduring mark in my life. It’s the near mid 80’s, Saturday morning, and I’m watching ‘Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp’ on the TV knowing what’s next in anticipation, until I hear the familiar theme song of  ‘Here we come, walking down the street… ‘…..  finally it’s time for one of my favourite shows …  ‘ Hey hey we’re the Monkees! And people say we monkee around’. How many kids got their Monkees introduction during numerous re runs of the hit TV show, I will never know but I know I loved the show, adored the band members and am still listening to their amazing songs all these decades later.  I can only imagine how chuffed the original 1960’s fans would have been feeling when Micky and Peter finally greeted us on stage. This was going to be a night of nostalgia, laughs and celebration.

When I first saw months ago that they were touring and the tour was titled ‘ Good Times- 50th Anniversary Tour’ I couldn’t quite get my head around the number, 50, years, really? I’ve only been watching and listening to them for just over 30 years and it feels like a lifetime. They are a part of my regular listening song lists that it’s like they are ‘family’ in a way and of course the fact that that I was crushing on them all when young would help with that familiarity too. What an achievement! 50 years of the Monkees and with a new album titled ‘Good Times’ being released this year too, it was hard to believe that Micky is 71 and Peter is 74 after they creamed their sets at the State Theatre in Sydney on Saturday night.

Visually we had the glorious TV show episodes and music clips playing in the background when our night started with of course ‘(Theme from ) the Monkees’ and then moved into ‘Listen to the Band’ and ‘Last Train to Clarksville’.  It was just so fantasy like, when you see something and go ‘is that really …??’ What a trip this night was so far.  Hearing songs like ‘Saturday’s Child’ , ‘Your Aunt Grizelda’ and ‘She’ set me up for one of my many favourites, the Neil Diamond penned ‘ A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You’ which was just sensational. Wow… I was in total fan girl mode. Grinning and singing and clapping, but so was the whole theatre, men included! There were no exceptions in this crowd, it was both sexes gushing and relishing, and that’s the appeal of this phenomenal band.

The best thing about this concert was EVERYTHING! We had the gems of ‘The girl I knew somewhere’, ‘Randy Scouse Git’ and ‘Mary Mary’ mixed with the new album tracks ‘She makes me laugh’ , ‘ You bring the summer’ and ‘Me and Magdalena’ which were just awesome. Even during intermission we were treated with more Monkees TV, TV advertisements for Kelloggs and the Davy Jones ‘Daddy’s Song’ black and white clip from the psychedelic movie ‘Head’.  It was like the band has some type of eternal life force behind them as I recently read a fan comment that ‘ Dolenz has made a pact with the devil as how could any 71 year old sing like that?’.  Remarkable singing Micky, I was thinking the same and had to check your date of birth online after the concert just to remind myself that you were actually in your 70’s. You and Peter are just such wonderful entertainers and to see your genuine personalities shine and still match the images on the screen and in my head was so special, I’ll never forget it. Or should I say I’ll never wash this cheek again. Which brings me back to our bowl hair cut favourite Monkee, the gorgeous Davy Jones who passed away in 2012. I knew tears were going to flow at a few points in the night and I was trying not to look at my friend during these times, as I knew she teary, just as I was and most of the crowd. Hearing that voice and watching his footage during ‘ Shades of Gray’ and ‘Daydream Believer’ was heartbreaking but watching Micky and Peter wiping their tears was crushing. Just thinking about it now is making my eyes water but since Davy Jones’ passing, I actually haven’t been able to listen to ‘Daydream Believer’ without getting upset. I’m sure I’m one of millions who feels the same but at least Davy was there so vividly in sound and sight, just like the still alive Michael Nesmith presence was felt during the whole gig. Micky and Peter kept the whole Monkees experience as all four Monkees, which was beautiful. It never felt like it was just two out of four which I’m sure is what they wanted to achieve and they did. What great guys, I wish there were girl Monkees,  I could just stand near you and play the tambourine?

This was over 2 hours of fun, non-stop legendary songs, jokes, tears and laughter. The amount of music was astounding with more tracks like ‘ Let’s Dance on’ , ‘(I’m not your) Steppin’ Stone’, ‘Words’ and  ‘Goin’ Down’. When the next song ‘DW Washburn’ played, it was one of those I forgot about that song moments for me, when a happy memory resurfaces, I love it when that happens. And then we also had the previously Michael Nesmith sung ‘What Am I Doin’ Hanging Round’ thrown in towards the end, which would have been my first introduction to a banjo when young. What a journey this night has been!  I was so enthralled and deep into Monkee land that I had to remind myself I wasn’t living in the actual TV show, I was just another mere mortal fantasising that I was in with the gang, drooling from the sidelines. ‘I wish, I wish, I wish I was a Monkee’.. But I’ll be more than happy if you could throw another tour in within the next couple of years. Maybe Peter can join your devil pact Micky? (And Michael could drop him a line too? And we can throw ‘Valleri’ in too? Am I being greedy???? )

Knowing the end is near is always my least favourite time of any gig, you get the ‘high’ with the last of the favourite songs with the ‘low’ of it’s time to go home now… Again, do we have to?  It’s ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’ and ‘I’m a Believer’  time, the latter being another Neil Diamond penned classic. So many memories with such amazing songs and just another 2 to add to my long Monkees favourites list. This was pure happiness from Micky and Peter, as fans moved towards the stage to lap up the last of their Monkees night and give a standing ovation. 

Then we had the highly emotive image of Micky and Peter walking off stage together, cross legged in full Monkees mode, it was tears again for me. What an extraordinary legacy to leave our world of music and TV.  I just wanted my Saturday morning dream to keep going forever!

 

 

by Marina Knezevic

© Marina Knezevic 2016 All Rights Reserved

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