The Monkees

State Theatre / New Brunswick, NJ

Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork by Henry Diltz
Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork by Henry Diltz

 

After a triumphant stage entrance to the theme song from their 1960’s hit TV series, The Monkees, Peter Tork coyly asked the clever question, “Are you ready because we came to your town?” Was he talking to me? The Monkees couldn’t have come any closer to mine unless they’d played a house concert in my living room! The fantastic, enthusiastic audience responded with an ecstatic, emphatic “YES!” All were indeed ready, but none more prepared than the loving couple that donned pink party hats during “She Makes Me Laugh.”

Intrepid road warriors Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork are the only two original “Prefab Four” out on this extensive Monkees 50th Anniversary Tour in support of their fabulous new album Good Times!  [Read my stellar review at on Elmore.] That’s FINE. (Fascinating. Incredible. Neat. Excellent.) And it’s enough.  But the deceased Davy Jones isn’t just still with them in spirit, you can hear it! “We used the Way-Back machine to capture the voice of our dearly departed partner,” Micky explained, before Jones’ very own vocal track effectively and poignantly led them on the marvelous, mournful, melancholy “Shades Of Gray” from their third straight #1 album Headquarters.

Mike Nesmith (no hyped Skype cameo on this night) was well represented too – “Listen To The Band,” “The Girl I Knew Somewhere,” “Papa Gene’s Blues,” ”Circle Sky” – especially when Peter beautifully sang Nez’s lead to Micky’s marvelous harmony on the delicious, mellifluous “Me & Magdalena” from Good Times! That pleasant surprise highlighted an evening that provided many magical musical moments, and included plenty of good-humored hijinks. It was a night filled with love, laughter and joy that was admirably aided, abetted and augmented by musical director and guitarist Wayne Avers, keyboardist Dave Alexander, bassist John Billings and Micky’s “dearly beloved sister,” Coco Dolenz, on backing vocals. The “other drummer” Rich Dart’s pratfalling drum roll was dangerous, hilarious, priceless!

Peter’s parroted, patented ad libs during his tour de force performance of “Your Auntie Grizelda” were never louder, clearer or funnier. His banjo-inflected, Appalachia-meets-Motown cover of Jackie Wilson’s hit “Higher And Higher” reached new heights. Micky rode “Steam Engine” into a “Proud Mary” chorus, turned “D.W. Washburn” into a rousing sing-a-long and drove the raucous raver, “Let’s Dance On,” to an hilarious call-and-response coda.  After all was said and done and played and sung, the dynamic Monkees duo had once again delivered in spades: They came, we saw, they conquered! A good clean fun time was had by all. I know. I was there. And I’m sure we had a GREAT time!

– Dennis McMonkeeDoNoUgh!

…I may have been born in 1962 – the same year as the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, NY Mets and L.A. Dodger stadium – but my consciousness was raised in 1966 with the birth of the Monkees.

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