LIVE: THE MONKEES – Perth, 13 December, 2016
Perth Concert Hall
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Photography by Paul Dowd
50 years after hundreds of aspiring stars answered an ad seeking “four insane folk & roll musicians and singers” for a TV project, The Monkees are still treading the boards around the world.
Only Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork are fronting this 50th anniversary tour though: Davy Jones sadly passed away in 2012, and Mike Nesmith – never a fan of touring at all, and only a reluctant Monkee as the years progressed and he enjoyed more satisfaction with a successful solo career – chose to sit this one out.
The twosome – backed by a superb band, including Dolenz’s sister Coco on backing vocals, drummer Rich Dart, bassist John Billing and band leader and guitarist Wayne Avers – wisecracked their way through a superb set list that showcased not only the big hits, but also deeper cuts, fan favourites, and – proving this wasn’t solely an exercise in nostalgia – a few superb newies, all whilst footage from the original 1966 TV series and their heyday played behind them.
There are a few surprises tonight, like the madcap Auntie Grizelda, Dolenz’s trippy Porpoise Song (Theme song from Head), and Tork’s excellent banjo-driven ‘Appalachian Motown’ romp through Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher.
Tork seems most at ease with the banjo in his hands – hardly surprising for the pre-Monkees folk singer, whilst born entertainer Dolenz bounds from drumkit to microphone to acoustic guitar to maracas, eliciting grins, laughs, singalongs and applause all the way.
The sheer joie de vivre of The Monkees shone through for the full house – She, newies She Makes Me Laugh and You Bring The Summer, the riotous Randy Scouse Git, Words are all great. Having technology bring us Jones singing the intro to not only Shades Of Grey, but also main set closer Daydream Believer prompts more than a few tears to be shed.
Two gold nuggets form the encore – Carole King’s Pleasant Valley Sunday, followed by Dolenz reminding kids that “we sang this song long before Shrek!” before I’m A Believer elicits a standing ovation. Truly generation-straddling, The Monkees had grandparents, parents and kids alike on their feet, clapping and singing along tonight – not bad for a band who didn’t even play on their first two albums (but went on to record much of their most interesting work themselves) and who were ostracized by many for being “manufactured.” If this is their last tour, then we are indeed lucky to have seen them while we could.
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About the Author: Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE