The two surviving members of The Monkees, Michael Nesmith and Micky Dolenz, brought their show to Melbourne Palais Theatre on Saturday night. STACK was there to soak up the nostalgia.
Tonight we have the pleasure of witnessing “The Mike and Micky Show” and the two surviving members of The Monkees – Michael Nesmith and Micky Dolenz – take the stage with a six-piece backing band plus two back vocalists. Song two, Last Train to Clarksville, receives a massive reaction from the audience. A few punters holler during breaks between songs until Nesmith explains, “If you only knew we can’t hear you,” and then throws in a couple of hilarious examples of the gobbledegook they hear from the stage. Dolenz prances around playing one-handed double maraca during Mary, Mary. Nesmith often stands in crucifix pose waiting on a tech he labels “Mister Guitar Change” to switch his instruments.
Introducing For Pete’s Sake, Dolenz pays tribute to Peter Tork, one of The Monkees who’s playing the great gig in the sky, and the man who wrote this tune. They’re clearly proud of the “really cool, hot indie-rock songwriters” who contributed songs to their Good Times! album (2016), which was recorded to commemorate the band’s 50th anniversary, and we score the Noel Gallagher/Paul Weller cowrite, Birth of an Accidental Hipster. Following rollicking Act 1 highlight, Circle Sky, the Carole King-penned Pleasant Valley Sunday is a slice of sonic bliss.
After recharging our glasses, we return to our seats for part deux. While introducing Auntie’s Municipal Court, Dolenz chuckles, “The title has absolutely nothing to do with the song, as usual.” There’s some extraordinary pedal steel guitar work during Goin’ Down, and Randy Scouse Git‘s backstory is a corker. “The Beatles threw us a party one night,” Dolenz enlightens, “I’m told I had a great time” (he wrote this song in his hotel room following said party). After Dolenz admits the song Ben Gibbard wrote for The Monkees is “truly one of his favourites” from Good Times!, they present Me & Magdelena.
“Oh, wow, we’re doing Grand Ennui?” Dolenz marvels as Nesmith wanders on stage, ready to go, with acoustic guitar already strapped on high-slung. This song contains a killer guitar solo by Nesmith’s son Christian. Dolenz takes the lead for (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone, which is a stone-cold classic that perfectly shows off drummer Rich Dart’s dexterity – it looks like he particularly enjoys letting loose during this number. After Dolenz leaves the stage, Nesmith transports us through the soothing strains of Rio – harmonies to die for! Daydream Believer was always gonna be a set highlight and when the audience is prompted to take over chorus vocals, the results are deafening: “CHEER UP SLEEPY JE-EAN!”
From the first second of I’m a Believer‘s plucky keys riff intro we’re all on our feet. The audience dancing in the aisles is wild, with go-go dance moves so vigorous that the ushers give up on forcing people to go back to their seats.
There’s no (Theme From) The Monkees this evening, but we s’pose they’d have to change the lyrics to, “Hey hey we’re two Monkees,” now that Tork and Davy Jones are no longer with us (RIP). So there’s that.