The Winspear Opera House played host to one of the most legendary bands of the late 1960s on June 29th. Musicians Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork were in perfect form as representatives of The Monkees for their 50th Anniversary concert. Guitarist Michael Nesmith was absent because of other professional duties and vocalist / heartthrob Davy Jones passed away in 2012.
Let me take a moment to stress my use of the word “musicians” when describing Mr. Dolenz and Mr. Tork. Decades went by with The Monkees being ostracized as television actors unable to play their own instruments. The hearsay was no more true the evening of their performance than it was fifty years ago when the four members of the group were brought together. Micky handled vocal, guitar, and drum duties with ease. Peter played guitar, keyboards, and the banjo flawlessly throughout their two hour-plus set.
I was very surprised by the songs chosen to be performed for The Monkees 50th Anniversary tour. My speculation was that the duo would only play songs they sang with one or two tributes with Davy Jones’s vocals piped in digitally via pre-recorded track. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Quite a few of Michael Nesmith’s cuts were executed with Dolenz and Tork sharing lead vocals. They did the same with a number of Jones’s memorable numbers.
The Monkees were backed by a band who you could tell respected the legacy of the two men they were in the company of. The ensemble worked wonderfully together and really didn’t miss a beat musically. Both Dolenz and Tork were at the top of their game vocally, which many might find surprising for guys who have spent the better part of five decades belting out hit songs. You’d think by the age of 70 they’d have worn their throats and chords out by overuse. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, and their backing group were adorned by a large screen playing clips of “The Monkees” TV series and behind-the-scenes footage of the band traveling, playing live, and goofing around. Many of the songs performed were accompanied by the footage used when the individual tracks were aired during their respective episode. During “The Porpoise Song” from their movie “Head”, Dolenz gazed up at the screen for a moment. A scene of him floating underwater amidst a sea of psychedelic colors was showing. You could imagine what he was thinking in that moment. “Wow, that’s me up there fifty years ago.”
The present members of The Monkees did a wonderful job saluting both of the absent members of their group. Michael Nesmith’s country-fueled contributions to the band provided both Dolenz and Tork the opportunities to highlight their versatile musical backgrounds and talents. They used what they called a wayback machine to honor fallen Monkee Davy Jones with performances of “Daydream Believer” and “Shades of Grey”. The late talent’s voice was cued in via backing tracks as Micky, Peter, and their group played and provided backing vocals.
I saw The Monkees on their reunion tour in 1986, which featured Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Davy Jones. The twosome and their backup musicians sounded just as astounding now as the band did way back then. Impeccable skills and an engaging blend of hit songs from a long and fulfilling career made The Monkees 50th Anniversary Tour a night fans will never forget.
Check out The Monkees' official website to see where they'll be stopping near you.
You can see more pictures from The Monkees 50th Anniversary Tour right here.