The Monkees in Niagara Falls, Ontario

Date: Saturday, June 11, 2011
Place: Fallsview Avalon Ballroom, Niagara Falls, Ontario

Gettin’ In

The ticket lady scanned my and my mom’s tickets. Our first stop was the merch table, because it sucks when the size of the t-shirt you want is sold out after the show. And it always is. Unfortunately, it was cash only, so we had to get our tickets unscanned, then go off to find an ATM, then come back. After we got our tickets scanned the second time, suddenly, this guy comes up running to me and asks how old I am. I wasn’t really expecting to be asked this, even though I know it’s a 19+ venue, since they’ve never asked me that there before. I said, “Umm… how old am I? Uh, I was born in ’89… um… twenty-one? I… think?”. My mom looks at me incredulously, like I’m the stupidest person on the planet, and I kind of laugh and say to the guy, “I have I.D., if that would help”. I pull out my driver’s license and give it to him and he says okay, then we go off to the merch table again.

Sooo, considering I got in the first time with no one asking my age, um, security was not too great. I, however, fully endorse non-security at Monkees concerts, because I fully support thirteen year old Monkees fans, like I once was.

Merchandise

Here’s what they had:

Unfortunately, Mike was cut out of all the pictures on the merch. I got a red girls’ shirt and the keychain. I was iffy on the keychain because, well, it’s ten bucks, but I think I paid more for my Sugar Jones keychain, and the Monkees are far better than Sugar Jones, so I think it’s justified. The shirt is cute and the keychain is nice.

The Seats

So, every few days, for weeks prior to the concert, I would randomly freak out about where my seat was. My grandma bought us the tickets when the first went on sale, and she gets them for free because she goes to the casino a lot. However, that means I didn’t know where the seats were, and we had to pick up the tickets at 7:00 p.m. the day of the concert, so I didn’t even know if they would suddenly go, “Uh, no, you didn’t actually get tickets. Too bad!”. But we did get tickets. But, since my grandma doesn’t go to that casino as much as she used to, they weren’t really good seats. I saw Davy at the same venue in September 2009, I think, and we were like sixth row on the floor. I don’t however remember anything about that concert because that was the year that I was out of it.

Anyway, our seats for this concert were in the right mezzanine, which is not the floor, but a little raised up section below the balcony, in the back right corner. We were in the sixth row, which was also the back row. There were a few seats worse than ours, but not many.

So, I thought to myself, since I’m not partying it up on the floor, I’ll just take lots of pictures instead! Compromise! Ah, but ’twas not so. We were right at the end of the row, which is not a good place for sneaky picture-taking. (And they announced twice before the show that taking pictures or video was “strictly prohibited”). Sure, it doesn’t disturb other people if I take pictures in my seat (since no one’s behind me), but the camera nazis can easily get to you without them disturbing anybody. I took out my camera during one of the first few songs and my mom said, “Maybe not right now”. There was also an exit right behind us, so an usher was standing right there the whole time. Too bad.

Another sucky thing about our seats is that four biggish people were in the row in front of us. I had to constantly move back and forth around this one woman’s head. And I was sitting on my foot the whole time, to raise me up, but it probably didn’t help much. Also, our row and the one in front of us were at the same height; our seats weren’t raised at all. That’s my biggest peeve about concert seating. All seats need to be higher than the row in front of them, dang it!

There was a video screen at the front of our row, but I don’t like watching those. I looked occasionally, to see facial expressions, but I mean, I can watch The Monkees on TV at home.

The video screen on the stage that showed old clips of The Monkees was nice, but I couldn’t see the top half of it due to the balcony above. The video clips I did see were very nice quality and nicely chosen. Not much new material, mostly from the show, Head, and (gasp!) 33 1/3.

The Crowd

I was disappointed to not see any wool hats in the crowd. I considered wearing mine, but it’s tricky, since Mike’s not there, so, ehh. I wanted to wear something somewhat obscurely Monkees, but couldn’t think of anything, at least not something I already own.

A couple was sitting in the seats to our right, and the lady asked me if I was a Monkees fan. I said yes. She asked if I had seen them before. I said I’d seen them all (well, the ones that tour), but separately. I think she said she had too. She asked who my favourite was. I said Mike. She said, “Aw, but he’s not here”. She then asked if I knew why he wasn’t here. I said something like, “Well, he’s doing other things, but I think he doesn’t really like tourin—”. She started explaining that his mom invented White-Out and I nodded and said I knew. My mom told her I’m a really big Monkees fan. She didn’t talk to me much after that.

The Set List

It went something like this. I’d like to say it went exactly like this, but this is mostly from memory.

  1. I’m A Believer
  2. Mary, Mary
  3. The Girl I Knew Somewhere
  4. When Love Comes Knockin’ (At Your Door)
  5. Randy Scouse Git
  6. Your Auntie Grizelda
  7. Valleri
  8. Papa Gene’s Blues
  9. That Was Then, This Is Now
  10. She Hangs Out
  11. All Of Your Toys
  12. What Am I Doing Hangin’ ’Round
  13. Sometime In The Morning
  14. Someday Man
  15. As We Go Along
  16. Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again?
  17. Porpoise Song (Theme From “Head”)
  18. Daddy’s Song
  19. For Pete’s Sake
  20. A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You
  21. Cuddly Toy
  22. Goin’ Down
  23. It’s Nice To Be With You
  24. Last Train To Clarksville
  25. I Wanna Be Free
  26. Saturday’s Child
  27. (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone
  28. Daydream Believer
  29. Listen To The Band
  30. Pleasant Valley Sunday
  31. I’m A Believer
  32. (Theme From) The Monkees

They played a show the day before, Friday, at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut and people were complaining that the previously two and a half hour show had been cut to one and a half hours. This disappointed me a bit, but they certainly got a lot of songs in there anyway! They didn’t seem to talk much though, which is always one of my favourite bits of concerts, especially when I know the group. But I knew all the jokes that were coming anyway, so it makes little difference to me.

It looks like they cut “I Don’t Think You Know Me”, “Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)”, “Words”, “No Time”, “Circle Sky”, “Can You Dig It?”, “She”, “Shades Of Gray”, and “Peter Percival Patterson’s Pet Pig Porky”. It would be cool to hear IDTYKM, since it’s a bit obscure, but I can understand cutting it. I’m okay without “Look Out”, since I’ve heard Davy sing it twice live already, but I always like to try and figure out if he sings “long hair and beat girl/bead girl/pig tails/mijacogeo/whatever”. “No Time” is a good fun song, too bad about that one. Obviously, I’m missing “Circle Sky”, being a Nezhead, and I quite enjoy hearing their reinterpretations of his songs. “Shades Of Gray” is a nice song with alternating Davy/Peter lead vocals, so I missed that. PPPPPP probably would have been fun. If you asked me what to take out to put “No Time” or “Circle Sky” in there, I would have thrown out “Valleri”, “It’s Nice To Be With You”, or “I Wanna Be Free”, but that’s just not fair to people like the lady sitting next to me screaming “DAAAAVY!”. So I guess they did alright with their choice of cuts. It seems the casinos want the shows shorter, and not the group.

The Actual Concert

So, they come out on stage from the left. I think, “Wow. This is The Monkees. Together, on one stage. The Monkees!”. My eyes started to feel a little funny, but I didn’t quite cry.

I immediately noticed Micky was totally into it. He was jumping up and down! I don’t know if he ever did that when I saw him solo a few years ago in Aurora, IL. My mom noticed this too. Glad to see him like that. Peter was also doing a bit of dancing and acting silly. Davy was Davy; he’s always a good show man. He did his, “I’m Davy’s dad; Davy will be out in a minute” line. “Me too!” added Micky.

Micky played drums for a few of the songs, and I think perhaps guitar once or twice. Davy was mostly on tambourine and I think maybe guitar once too. Peter played keyboards and guitar and maybe bass. It surprised me that he was on tambourine for quite a few songs when he could have been playing any of the instruments up there. They had a pretty big backing band. I think almost all of the backing band members did backing vocals, which was disappointing when you’ve got three capable singers up there who sound so great together.

After the first few songs, they did “When Love Comes Knockin’”, and I just felt like suddenly everyone on the floor went *blank stare*. The lady next to me sang along the whole time though. I think Micky ducked out during this song, but I saw him off stage clapping towards the end. They each ducked out every once in awhile.

After that, out comes the big ole kettle drum, so I know what’s coming next. Micky comes out to tell his story. He says he went over to “the old country” and met “The Royal Family”. Peter and Davy incredulously ask him, “You mean, you met the Queen and the—?”. “No no no, the other Royal Family—The Beatles!” Micky says. Cheers from the crowd. He talks about the party where, “I’m told I had a good time”. Laughs from the crowd. He described the silly kind of outfit he wore back then, which really sounded like more of a description of a bad Halloween costume than what the guys really wore; I think they were (generally) quite fashionable back in the day. He talked about tie-dyed bell bottoms and paisley underwear and long curly hair.

He says he named the song “Randy Scouse Git”, but in England, they had to change the title because it was “very naughty”. “You want to know what it means?” he asks. “It means a hornly—hornly?” he said something about washing his tongue and it not working anymore. “A horny Liverpudlian putz!” he managed.

Peter sang “Your Auntie Grizelda” and had a bit of fun with the ad-libs. They played clips from the show with older actresses like Rose Marie and Ruth Buzzi, I think. Boy, has Peter’s voice changed since the last time I heard him live. He’s got a good voice (and I would say “still”, but some people may debate that he ever had a good voice :P), but it doesn’t sound like the old Monkees Peter. He looks and sounds pretty good after the cancer thing. And I liked his outfit; black sixties style velvet shirt and leather pants. They all wore all black, I think.

“Papa Gene’s Blues” was nice. I think Davy does this one solo? I’m not sure who took the lead, I think they all sang along. I especially thought Micky did a nice job, but I’ve always thought he had a great voice. Him and Mike together though, now that’s really nice.

When “She Hangs Out” started up, I was going to say to my mom, “Oh! He’s going to do the dance now!”, but I don’t know if he ever did. If he did, it wasn’t a full-blown Davy dance. Oh well.

Then came “All Of Your Toys”, which was a nice choice. I think they played the video for “Wind-Up Man” on the screen.

I was so glad they didn’t cut “Sometime In The Morning”, since I love that song. I think Micky introduced it by talking about some of the great songwriters they had working for them, including, of course, Carole King, who got a cheer. They played slo-mo clips from the show mostly I think when they were jumping over the fountains. None of the “Monkee Mother” bits where they played the song though.

Davy introduced the next song by talking about its songwriter, Paul Williams. “What? Someday Man?” I thought, and so it was. I liked this song being included as well. Couldn’t tell if the lady next to me knew it or not. I think the video screen just showed a still of the single cover.

Now, into the Head songs, starting with “As We Go Along”, another one of my favourites. My eyes really welled up here, but this song makes me cry even when I’m not hearing it live. It’s such a great summer-y, carefree and loving type song, but it also makes me feel so nostalgic. And Micky just has such a great distinct voice. He definitely hasn’t lost it.

Then into “Long Title” and “Porpoise Song”, which I figured would be the end of the Head bit. At the beginning of the song, Micky turned away from the crowd, facing the video screen. At the same time, there were porpoise noises, which seemed to be coming from Micky, since you couldn’t see his mouth. I wasn’t sure if they were going to do the fake-out ending or not; they did, which made me glad. I like that version much better, even though it’s just so slightly longer.

But alas, we weren’t done with Head yet! I forgot all about “Daddy’s Song”! That’s one Davy song that I would never cut (along with “She Hangs Out” and “Cuddly Toy”; I like the fun ones, not the stars-in-eyes ones). Davy had snuck (snick?) out during “Porpoise” and came back out in a white suit. It seemed a bit too big for him, but I guess he had put it over top of his other outfit? They had the scene from the movie up on the video screen, but they messed with it so it was all 2-bit black and white. Davy did most of the steps along with the original choreography.

Peter introduced the next song, saying we would know it from the TV show (I think he said “the seasons after the first”, which, well, was just the second), and if we didn’t know the show, we were probably in the wrong venue. And also, if you didn’t like the song, it would be over in two minutes and fifteen seconds. It was of course “For Pete’s Sake”.

During “Cuddly Toy”, the three guys were standing close together, making it obvious how short Davy is.

Next up was “Goin’ Down”. When they started up the video with the colorized Mickys from the show, I took a deep breath for him. I think he may have left out a verse or two, but I could be wrong. The song seemed to go by very fast.

Then we have “It’s Nice To Be With You”, which is not my cup of tea, but the lady next to me was pretty excited. Davy did not discourage us from singing along because it puts him off. Maybe that’s another bit that was cut? :P

And then, we know we’re nearing the end with “Last Train To Clarksville”. It’s still a great song. Don’t know what else to say about it, I think it was probably one of the best of the evening (this coming from someone who knows all of the songs and usually dislikes the big hits!). It’s just so upbeat and catchy.

Davy introduced “I Wanna Be Free” in a way that made it out to be a more important song than it really was, and he got people clapping for it before it started. Really? Is it that big a song? I don’t think so. The lady next to me did.

Micky was on drums for “Saturday’s Child”, I’m pretty sure, because I can picture him doing the tom roll, whatever you want to call it. The video screen played the “Saturday’s Child” romp and also one from the “Captain Crocodile” episode, which I’m not sure what song was used in that romp. I didn’t remember that part of the episode at all. Guess I need to watch it again.

Micky did a nice job singing on “Steppin’ Stone”. At one point, he was standing next to Davy and they were both singing “No, I’m not your steppin’ stone!” when it looked like Micky could easily stomp on little old Davy.

“Daydream Believer” got the big sing along. “Okay, everybody!” Davy says as the chorus comes up, “Cheer up Sleep Jean!” he instructs. “Oh, what can it mean!” he tells us. Umm, yeah, I think we know how it goes, I think to myself. “To a… Justin Bieber!” he says next. Ohh. Okay. That kind of killed the sing along. Which… is usually a good thing.

I think then someone in the band said, “Good night!” and everyone went off stage. It seemed rather abrupt, but I knew they were coming back. I don’t know if everyone else did though, since some people seemed to get up and leave. The band came back on stage pretty quickly though.

My mom and I stood through the whole encore and I took a few pictures. They mostly didn’t turn out, since I couldn’t fool the camera shutter speed by focusing on the spot lights, which I couldn’t see. No one took pictures the whole show, but I saw a guy a few rows in front of me with a camera during the encore. Towards the end, I felt someone brush against my back, but I didn’t turn around. A few seconds later, an usher was talking to the guy with the camera, so I put mine away as well. I think he was using flash. I always turn off flash, and this time I was also trying to shield the video preview screen to attract less attention.

Anyway, I know that they do “Listen to the Band” (it was on the Live Summer Tour album), but I’d forgotten and it was a bit unexpected. I like that song, of course. Davy introduced all the members of the band. I think I read somewhere there were eight people backing them up. (meaning one Mike = eight people, of course… :P).

While I don’t consider “Pleasant Valley Sunday” to be a huge hit, I think it’s a great ending song. But then they did “I’m A Believer” again, and also a bit of “(Theme From) The Monkees”. “Davy, Micky, and Peter!” one of the band members announced as the three ran off stage. Then Davy comes running back, and the other two pull him back off. Then Peter comes running back, repeat. Then Micky, comes running back out and they chased him across to the left of the stage, and that was it.

Overall, the guys seemed to be happy and having fun. It was all a bit cheesy, but that’s The Monkees. They did a good job playing the big songs for the casual concert-goer as well as a few rare gems for the hardcore fans.