Micky Dolenz at Casino Rama, Orillia, ON on September 21, 2013
Place: Casino Rama, Orillia, Ontario
My dad texted me while I was at work one day and said Micky Dolenz was coming to Casino Rama. The only other time I had been to Casino Rama was for ZZ Top in 2011; they put on a great show, but it’s at least two hours to get there, the shows are short because it’s a casino, and it’s another two hours to get back home, so we get home late. Plus, I’d seen Micky before, I had little interest in seeing Peter Noone and David Cassidy, and it sounded like it would be super cheesy. So I told him I didn’t want to go. He persisted; there were front row seats in the first section above the floor for only $40. I jokingly said, okay, if you want to see them that much, I’ll go. And so we did, me dad, me mum, and me.
A few days later, I looked at the tickets and wondered why they said section J, row 18. That… doesn’t sound like the front row of anything. I looked at the seating chart online and realized the seats were the very last row of the second section. Bummer.
On Saturday night, we arrived at Casino Rama and went to our seats. We were thinking the seats would be in the last row of the entire venue, but they were actually not bad. The rows are staggered and not on a flat surface, and there were no tall people in front of us, so we had a clear view of the stage. We were also dead centre, and there were one or two other sections behind us, so they were definitely not horrible seats.
There was apparently a sign saying no cameras, though I didn’t see it, and they made an announcement about fifteen minutes before the shows saying no cameras, but they didn’t check my bag when I came in (and I had a BIG camera in it), and lots of people were using cameras during the show and weren’t stopped. I didn’t use my big camera until the last song in case someone would kick me out. I tried taking pictures of Micky’s set, but the little camera I brought was horrible, and it wasn’t worth trying to fool around with the camera when his set was so short and I wouldn’t get good pictures from that far anyway.
Around 9:00, my dad pointed out that there were people on the stage. I recognized one of the guitarists as Wayne Avers, who was on the Monkees 2012 tour. I was simultaneously proud of myself and a little sad that I knew that. I didn’t realize until the band introductions that Dave Robicheau, who was Davy’s guitarist, was also in the band. I should start keeping track of who I’ve seen in what bands, because I’ve probably seen some of the backup band members more than the main performers.
- Dave Robicheau (from Davy Jones’ band) - guitar
- Vance Brescia (from Peter Noone’s band) - guitar
- Wayne Avers (from The Monkees’ band) - guitar
- Teri Coté - drums
- Frank Fabio - bass guitar
- Craig J - keyboards
Side note, Vance Brescia wrote “That Was Then, This Is Now”, which Micky performed that night, so that was cool.
I’m going to preface this by saying that I might be a bit hard on David in this review. Firstly, I was there to see Micky, not David. I knew all the songs Micky and Peter played, but I only know the two big Partridge Family songs that David played, so there’s not much I can say about the other songs, not being familiar with them. Plus, I was disappointed that Micky was on first and David was the headliner. David Cassidy just isn’t my bag, and I’m sure a lot of David’s fans don’t care for Micky either. People have different taste, and that’s cool.
David Cassidy came on stage and introduced Peter Noone and Micky Dolenz, and they all sang a cover of “Rock This Town” by the Stray Cats together. I think while David was doing a verse on his own, Micky and Peter were doing some sort of dosey-do, skip-to-my-lou thing in the background. Peter showed off his socks with maple leaves on them.
After the first song, David and Peter left the stage, and Micky did his set.
All the set lists I’m using are from a review of a different show, but I think it was the same.
- “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone”
- “That Was Then, This Is Now”
- “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You”
- “Last Train to Clarksville”
- “Daydream Believer”
- “Pleasant Valley Sunday”
- “I’m a Believer”
This was my fifth time seeing Micky (that’s including three times with the Monkees). Micky is pretty consistent; he always puts on a pretty good show. I didn’t think I had ever heard him do “That Was Then, This Is Now” before, but apparently the Monkees played it during the 2011 tour. I was sure I’d never heard him do “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” (during which he played the maracas), but apparently he did that when I saw him back in 2004. So while there was technically nothing new for me to see, it was kind of like new.
During “That Was Then, This Is Now”, Peter came out on stage using a walker. Afterwards, Micky said that that was Peter’s son, and they had hired him as a roadie.
I only noticed one flub during his set, in “She”; he came in too early on one line, singing, “She laughed… when I was crying”, but I think most of the audience wouldn’t have noticed. I didn’t realize the spin-around-and-catch-the-microphone thing he did during “She” was something he always does during that song.
He introduced “Last Train to Clarksville” by talking about the great songwriters the Monkees had, and that this song was written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, who shaped a lot of the Monkees’ early sound.
When the keyboard player started playing the opening riff for “Daydream Believer”, Micky said, “I guess you recognize that, huh?”, and he asked if anyone knew the words. I didn’t think that he did the audience member thing at solo shows, but then David came out and said that he knew the words, and he’d like to sing along.
So, I’m going to get a little sidetracked here.
I’d prefer if Micky didn’t do this song on this tour in the first place. I’m okay with him doing it actually solo, but I don’t like him doing it with someone else who is not a Monkee. I didn’t get to see Peter Tork on his latest solo tour, so I don’t know how he frames “Daydream Believer” now, but I really like his version of it from Once Again, so I’m glad he still does it live. I also like how Micky sings the last few verses—the Mel C. part, if that makes any sense at all—so I like hearing that live. But for this particular kind of tour, I’d prefer if Micky just sang it himself.
I honestly don’t know anything about David Cassidy’s relationship with Davy Jones, and I can understand if he wants to pay tribute to his friend as well, but it kind of felt like he wanted to make the song about him.
For “Pleasant Valley Sunday”, Micky talked about how it was written by Carole King, and that he thinks it was one of the best songs the Monkees did. He also mentioned his Carole King cover songs album, King for a Day, and that you can get it on MyFace or YourFace or Somebody’sFace.
For his introduction to “I’m a Believer”, he mentioned it was written by Neil Diamond, and he did the Shrek bit, but he prefaced it with something like, “I’m not sure that there are any kids here… because… it’s a casino”. A couple of people waved to him at this point, and responded with, “Sir, you are a 42 year old man”.
He ended with, “Thank you, Canada!”, which drives me crazy. We’re a big darn place, Mick. No one says, “Thank you, America!” or “Thank you, England!”. I’d actually prefer if he did “Thank you, Cleveland!” everywhere again.
Micky’s set seemed to be over really quickly, and there was hardly any banter. I would have loved for him to have done “Goin’ Down”; even though it wasn’t a big hit, it’s a fun song, and I think people who are not necessarily fans of him would still be impressed seeing him sing it. It also seemed like he said, “Thank you, thank you, you’re a great audience” before any of the songs were even done, like he just wanted to get out of there.
After that, Micky introduced Peter and left the stage.
I had previously read a review from this tour, and the reviewer said that Peter was hilarious, so I was looking forward to him. I was also expecting to be disappointed because I’d gotten my hopes up too much about him being good, but I was not disappointed in the least. Peter was adorable and hilarious.
While my family was driving to the show, my mom mentioned that she had seen Peter back in the ’80s at Lulu’s in Kitchener. She remembers she wasn’t drinking that night because she was trying to get pregnant with me. So this led into a running joke for that evening that Peter Noone is my real father.
Again, not sure of this set list, but it sounds right.
- “I’m into Something Good”
- “Wonderful World”
- “End of the World”
- “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter”
- “I’m Henry the Eighth, I Am”
- “There’s A Kind Of Hush”
I’m very not sure of the order of the jokes, so this is very chronological now.
At one point, Peter was talking about something David had said to him earlier. I couldn’t actually figure out this joke, but he said something about how this audience didn’t want CDs, they wanted eight tracks. And maybe he should bring cassettes too. Then he brought out a pile of CDs and gave them to some people standing at the front of the stage. He also threw some t-shirts into the crowd—and he threw them out there pretty far. He said, “There’s nothing sadder than a teen idol putting his t-shirts and CDs back in his car at two o’clock in the morning”. He mentioned the t-shirts had “Rama, Ontario” listed on the back, so now you know where you are.
He said David had also told him the crowd would really like to hear some country and western. So he started into “Ring of Fire”, doing a Johnny Cash impression.
“Ever since I was a little kid, growing up in Manchester, I dreamed that one day, I would play at Casino Rama,” he told us. This was so much more adorable with his accent. He must have said “Casino Rama” about fifty times; it’s certainly a fun name to say.
“And all of you were in that dream! …but your father wasn’t with you. I told John Lennon, when we get old, you know where we’re going to perform? Casino Rama. I told Mick Jagger, when we get old, we’re going to play at Casino Rama. He said, ‘I neva heard a that’, and I said, ‘Shut up, sausage lips, and get back on stage!’”
Then he did an impression of Mick Jagger doing “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”. Afterwards, he talked for a bit more, and he said he was just wasting time trying to catch his breath, and now he knows why Mick weighs 92 pounds.
At one point, Peter picked up the set list and showed it to us and said if you could read it without glasses, you weren’t an original member, and then he made a joke about Wayne Avers having glasses because he didn’t listen to the nuns.
There was also a bit where Peter was talking, and I guess someone in the crowd was making noise, so he said, “SHHHH!”.
Peter claims that he “don’t know much about geography”, but he certainly studied up for this show. He asked if we’d ever been to the Toronto airport. He said if you get in a taxi at Toronto airport and ask to go to Orillia, the driver will say, “Dere is no such place in Canada” (sorry, I can’t quite figure out how to put those retroflex sounds in writing, but you can probably imagine the kind of accent he was doing). Everyone laughed and he said, “Oh, so you’ve all been to the Toronto airport!”. He said something about “take the 400 and keep going” and “when we hit Sudbury, we knew we’d gone too far”. Oh, southern Ontario humour. He also mentioned they should have had the drummer, a woman, with them, so they would have asked for directions.
He made a couple references to the Philippines, including I think saying “End of the World” was number one there. I think there was someone in the front row who prompted this, but I didn’t quite understand.
For “Mrs. Brown”, it was just Peter singing and the one guitar, I believe, with no backing vocals. I think he might have repeated a different line rather than doing, “Don’t let on, don’t say she’s broke my heart”, but I’m not certain.
He talked about how when he was younger, people would call him fatty. He said, “Does this look like fat to you? No! That’s my arse! One day, you’re gonna realize those size 28 Roots jeans you’re wearing should probably be a 29 ’cause there’s an inch of fat sticking out at the top. And you’re gonna pull them up a bit, and go see Micky and David.” And then he walked around the stage a bit with his pants pulled up, then made some remark when he was pulling them down about how he didn’t need help, and, “‘Oh yeah, we went and saw Peter Noone, and he pulled his pants down on stage.’”
At one point, he mentioned how during his set, Micky was talking about all the great songwriters that wrote for the Monkees. Peter, on the other hand, wrote (or stole) all of his songs himself, he told us.
“Henry the Eighth” was pretty rocking. Peter had all the different sections of the audience yell out “H! E! N-R-Y!”. The first section got confused and started singing the chorus afterwards. When he got to the last section, he said, “I know, it’s not fair, they’ve had all this time to learn the words!”. He mentioned that the drummer, carrying on the song while he spoke to the audience, was doing all the work. At one point, he said, “I’ve forgot; what verse are we on?” and then we ended up doing, “Millionth verse, same as the first!”.
I thought for sure that would be the end of his set, because the audience was all pumped up, but then he did “There a Kind of Hush”, introduced David, and left the stage.
Again, I’m not so sure on the order of the songs and the bits for David’s set.
- “Come On, Get Happy”
- “I’ll Meet You Halfway”
- “Doesn’t Somebody Want To Be Wanted”
- “I Can Feel Your Heartbeat”
- “I Woke Up In Love This Morning”
- “I Think I Love You”
David came on stage and played an extended guitar part. He said he was going to do something that “you’re probably… not… gonna love”, and then did a more rock/funk version of “Come On, Get Happy”. There was not a really big applause, so he was probably right.
David’s set was disappointing, because Peter got the crowd really pumped up during “Henry the Eighth”, and then David’s set was very blah.
Several times, he said that he was a huge fan of Micky and the Monkees growing up, and that he thinks Micky is a great underrated singer. Oh, and he really liked Peter and his vocals too. But he just can’t come out here and do the same show every night like Peter and Micky do. He doesn’t have a “pattern”, and he if did, he would shoot himself in the head, he told us repeatedly.
Talking bad about Peter and Micky’s “pattern” was not cool. I’m not a big fan of seeing the same show over and over either, but you shouldn’t bad mouth your bandmates (or whatever you want to call them) during a show. We didn’t come here to hear negativity. And I don’t think David really varies up his shows as much as he’d like to think he does, considering his set list was the same as the others I’ve seen from this tour.
David introduced one of the songs as being very special to him, and that some of you know why, and many probably don’t, and then he didn’t explain why it was special to those of us that didn’t know. I want to say it was either “Hush” or “Cherish”, but I’m not sure.
He introduced “I’ll Meet You Halfway” by saying it was by the man who wrote “Up on the Roof” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) Natural Woman”. Then there was a long pause, and he said something about Aretha that I didn’t quite catch. Anyway, he was talking about Gerry Goffin. I thought this was amusing, because Micky had earlier been talking about Carole King, who you could also say wrote “Up on the Roof” and “Natural Woman”, since they co-wrote them.
Throughout the show, David would notice people holding things up in the audience. He’d laugh and say something like, “That’s mind-blowing!”. He’d ask the audience member to see the thing, and look at it in awe. Someone handed him one of his solo records, and after a while, he said, “I don’t know who she is, but she’s very pretty”. He pointed out one album and said, “That was our second album”. Another person had a newspaper article, and he said, “Oh, you’re going to have to let me look at that”. He looked at it for a while and said, “That’s almost 1973!”. (Also, come on, person, laminate that thing! Or at least put it in a plastic sleeve. I was so afraid it would rip.)
During one of the songs, he went to the front of the stage and crouched down and touched people’s hands. At one point—I wasn’t sure if he was doing some shtick or not—he kept saying, sounding kind of pissed off, “Don’t pull!”.
He introduced “Doesn’t Somebody Want to Be Wanted” as being the song he almost quit the Partridge Family over. I think he again mentioned shooting himself in the head over this song. He kept saying how horrible it was, especially the “pathetic” Elvis-like talking part. And don’t get him wrong, he loves Elvis, and respects his talent, but he was twenty years old at the time, and he liked Cream, B.B. King, and Jimi Hendrix, and he didn’t want to sing this horrible song. When it got to the talking part, he started saying again how horrible it was, and he was going to do it to the best of his memory. He did do a pretty good job remembering the words, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t verbatim.
You know, I’m no different from anybody else
I start each day
And end each night
But it gets real lonely when you’re by yourself
Now where is love?
And who is love?
I gotta know!
He really emphasized the last three lines, and he was much more dramatic than in the original version. I like that he has a sense of humour about the cheesy songs that everybody—even the Monkees—did back then; I just wish he hadn’t gone on so much about how bad it was. He could have said things like “cheesy” and “schmaltzy” instead of “horrible” and “pathetic”, and it wouldn’t have sounded so negative.
I’m not sure what song it was, but I think it was another one that he said he hadn’t played for thirty years because he hated it, but now, he loved it.
He mentioned that he doesn’t usually play this much guitar, and we might not like him playing guitar this much. He said he fractured his finger a while ago and hasn’t been able to play, but he was feeling really good tonight, so he wanted to play a lot.
Before one of the songs, David started saying, “This next song… ‘Last Train to’…?”. I thought he was making a joke about trying to read the set list, but instead, he took a sign someone in the crowd was holding up. He held it up and showed it to us and said, “This is what I have to deal with every night”. The sign was partially obscured, but from what I could see, it said something like “Take the last train to Whoreville […] room #322”. I don’t know who the sign was meant for, but there were at least two signs in the front row that were held up quite a lot during the show. Another sign had been shown on the video screens earlier, and it started with something like “There’s a kind of hush on the last train to Clarksville…” and then was presumably followed by a reference to one of David’s songs.
He introduced the band, and the keyboard player did a solo. I don’t know much about keyboards/pianos/organs/those kinds of instruments, but the sound of the one used in “I Think I Love You” is very distinct, right? So when the keyboard player switched over to playing that kind of sound, I think everyone knew what was coming. Just before the “I don’t know what I’m up against” part, David said this was his favourite part.
Quite a few times throughout the show, David did this kind of crouching motion that made it look like he was on the toilet. It was not attractive.
Micky and Peter came back on stage to join David in singing a reprise of “Rock this Town”. Then they did their bows and left.
After the show
I had read a review from an earlier show that said Peter and Micky were at the merch booths doing autographs after the show. I wasn’t counting on that happening at this show, since it was a casino, but I thought I’d check it out anyway.
As we were leaving, I saw a woman holding a cardboard box with the word “HERMAN’S HERMITS CDS” written on the front in marker. That’s the merchandise booth? I thought. But there was an actual merch booth with Herman’s Hermits t-shirts and CDs, and Peter was there signing things for people. My mom asked an usher if Micky would be there, but he said it was just Peter. I didn’t entirely trust him, because how would he know, and I’m pretty sure when I got Micky to sign my record a long time ago, the people at the merch booth said he wasn’t coming. But it didn’t look like Micky had any merch there, so he probably didn’t show up. We didn’t stick around to see though.