By Shane Jones
Artist: The Monkees
Date / Venue: Tuesday November 29th, 2016 - Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch
The year is 1965, I definitely wasn't around then, but The Monkees were. They had just started hitting our TV screens with their crazy ways, who are they and what were they about?
The actor/musicians consisted of Micky Dolenze, Peter Tork, Davy Jones and Mike Nesmith, were four guys that imagined being The Beatles. But it wasn't until the show was cancelled in '68 that they decided to become a real band which lasted approximately 3 years from which (at that time) I had now arrived on the planet. As a youngster I can remember my mother playing their vinyl albums to myself and my brother and sister, but it was over our heads in the sense of 'Oh mum, really??'. So we'd all watch the TV programmes. After a few years went by and we all heard their songs on the radio with big hits the like, Last Train To Clarksville, Daydream Believer and I'm a Believer, Monkeemaina had really arrived and they were America's version of The Beatles.
The show was back on and so were the tours. Even after Davy Jones passed away from a heart attack in 2012 and Mike Nesmith stopped touring due to other commitments, they continued to tour. So where am I heading you may ask? Well it's now the year 2016 and its the big 50th for them so why not tour yet once again...
This time we finally get a tour here which is their very first to New Zealand starting tonight in Christchurch at the Isaac Theatre Royal.
To a near full house capacity with not only those from the teens back in the late sixty's but to the teens of today, as well as all the followers in between spending anything from $89.90 to $249.90... not forgetting of course the dearer VIP packages. So what do you get for that price? You get a double setlist due to an intermission half way through the show with a total of 31 songs... wow! Normal touring bands usually give about 17-19 songs which gave a listening time of approx. 1 3/4hrs. Listening to Last Train To Clarksville, I'm Not Your Stepping Stone, Pleasant Valley Sunday, Daydream Believer being crowd favourites, with a final encore standing ovation for I'm a Believer.
So how were the acoustics? I felt that the music was a bit overpowering at times to actually hear the lyrics, which brought your eyes to the big drop screen playing old vintage footage from their TV shows, commercials and also some of their videos from that late 60's early 70's. Both Mickey and Peter would do like an autobiography style chat leading into songs on how quickly how they came about in regards to who helped write them which was very nostalgic and some what very comical that had the crowd laughing at their antics and Mickey paying respectful homage to his pal Davy.
The backing band were superb with John Billings on bass, David Alexander on keyboards and mouth organ, Ritch Dart on drums, Wayne Abers on rhythm guitar and finally Coco who is Micky's sister on backing vocals and percussion. Not to mention a young woman in the front row who participated in the song Goin' Down, from which Mickey handed her the mic to sing a segment, which also got the crowd clapping.
So with only two of the original Monkees preforming it seemed not like a proper Monkees show we would come to expect, but a celebration of the music of The Monkees in the eyes of Micky and Peter, which made it quiet entertaining. The Monkees have a new album out which came out in May of this year called 'Good Times' from which we were treated to a couple new songs.
I enjoyed it overall and so did my special guest I took no other than my mother of course, so if you can get to the Auckland show do it, otherwise travel to Australia and see them there if you're a Believer of psychedelic pop folk rock, its a big thumbs up from me.