Mike: “Oh. Couldn’t get a ride?”
Micky: “It was tough. Took awhile to get…”
Mike: “…get somebody to stop?”
Micky: “Two or three stops, and one delayed flight.”
Mike: “I’m tellin’ you, Micky, do not take off the hat. You do that, they’re not gonna stop. The hat looks so good. So good.”
Peter: “And the not hat.”
Peter: “And the not hat. There’s an implication here…”
Mike: “Oh, yeah, right.”
Peter: “…but we’ll just leave it alone.”
When Mike asked if anybody stopped, someone behind me yelled, “I would have stopped!”.
Mike said, “Okay, let me just check my email”, and then he and Peter asked, “You ready, Micky?”, “You good?”. Then Peter said, “Wait, I’m not ready… okay, now I’m ready… wait, no… okay, now I’m ready”. They started into “You Told Me”, but Mike’s guitar wasn’t in tune, so he tuned it. “We tune because we care,” Peter informed us.
After that was “Sunny Girlfriend”, “You Just May Be the One”, and “Mary, Mary”. Between songs, Mike started playing something on his guitar, and then he went to the microphone and said, “I just wrote that!” and smiled gleefully. He did that quite a few times through the show (smiling gleefully, that is), and Mike smiles always make me smile. Peter replied, “All it needs is lyrics and bridge”. “It needs a lyric? Oh, well, there goes that…”, Mike said, then he proceeded to sing:
Where is Micky? Where is Micky?
He’s not back on stage yet
Where is Micky? Where is Micky?
He’s not back on stage yet
Mick’s in Cleveland, Mick’s in Cleveland
Looking for his dressing room
Mick’s in Cleveland, Mick’s in Cleveland
Then Mike and Peter started talking about blum-blums, and Mike asked Peter, “Your blum-blum’s good?” before starting into “The Girl I Knew Somewhere”. After that, I think Micky started talking about how Peter played both the bass and piano parts on the song, and Peter said something like, “It was in different years though”.
Mike played the keyboards for “For Pete’s Sake” and “Early Morning Blues and Greens”, and he goofed around while Peter introduced the song. Mike made an impatient motion with his hands while Peter was talking like come on, let’s go, hurry it up.
Soon, Micky returned to the stage with his tablecloth and kettle drum for “Randy Scouse Git”. Peter took the tablecloth and waved it around and said “Ole!” and then, “You knew I was going to do that”, and then he helped Micky put the tablecloth on. Someone in the audience had yelled, “Take off your hat!” to Micky a few times during the show. Micky took the hat off for a second to get the tablecloth on, and the guy yelled happily. After Micky got the tablecloth on, he started crying about, “The colours!”, and Peter shielded his eyes. Micky did his intro, and mentioned that the song meant “horny Liverpudlian putz”, and someone in the audience yelled, “That’s the best kind!”. Peter flubbed the piano intro a bit, which was funny because the intro sounds like a flub anyway. After the song, a crew member came to take away the tablecloth and drum, and Micky told him to have it cleaned and burned.
Next was the comedy highlight of the evening, “Daily Nightly”. Micky said that Mike had promised to get a Moog synthesizer for the song, and then said that in return, he got the lyrics to the song, written by Mike, printed on 24 karat gold leaf paper (and also since he couldn’t remember the words). Mike started making “uh oh” faces and even did his “oh merciful heavens” pose that he did a lot in the second season of the show. Mike told Micky that he knows that he promised to get a Moog, but… those things are like, as big as… a metaphor for something really, really big. And they cost like a billion dollars. But… he did get a picture of a Moog! “With my dead house plants in the background”, Micky added. But Mike told him not to worry about; he’s got it covered. Micky started into the song, and soon, Mike joined him on the mouth Moog. Mike’s faces were even better up close, but his microphone was in the way. And while we all focus on Mike’s Mooging, Micky did a particularly awesome job on the vocals for this song.
Next up was “Tapioca Tundra”. Micky got out the cowbell, and someone in the audience yelled, “More cowbell!”. Mike replied, “You got it, kid”. I didn’t notice this at the last show, but Micky did the counting bit at the beginning. Mike seemed to have some trouble whistling the intro.
Then into “Goin’ Down”. Micky gave the second verse to an audience member on the far right of the stage. I’m pretty sure she got all the words right (but I myself was deeply jealous and was not paying that much attention).
Next was the Head video, and then Micky returned for “Porpoise Song”. He stood at the front of the stage for the vocal part, and then to the drums for the outro. The band started the outro without him, which I don’t think they did last time. Micky has great drum faces.
Next was the “Daddy’s Song” video. After hearing it the second time, I think Davy’s vocals were sped up, which would explain the higher pitch. (My geeky side thinks they should have used granular synthesis to change the speed without changing the pitch).
Then all three Monkees returned for “Can You Dig It”. Now, at the end of most songs, the audience starts clapping before the song has even ended, but this time, there was a second of silence before the clapping began, and I saw Micky mouth “Ouch!” to Peter.
Next was “As We Go Along”, and though I tried to get a picture when Davy was on the screen (which was a plan I’d thought of the previous night), the spotlights obscured the screen, so it didn’t work out.
Peter introduced the next song by saying something like, “This was from Head”. Mike asked, “From where?”, and Peter said, “A movie by that name”, and Mike said, “Okay”. This doesn’t translate well in text, but it was funny live.
Then Mike, looking at his iPad, which was taped to his microphone stand, said, “Wow! Did you know that the Nigerian finance minister… I think our troubles are over!”. (Hmm, that sounds like it could be the plot of an episode.) Peter walked over and looked at the screen, and then they started into “Circle Sky”. I was all ready to stand up like we did in Cleveland, but… nothing. I’m disappointed in you, Buffalo. They finished the Head set with “Long Title”.
After that, everyone left the stage, and they showed the Davy tribute video. The final clip was from Davy’s screen test, and there was no sound, except some brief laughter at the end. I thought this was a technical glitch at the Cleveland show, but it happened again in Buffalo, so I guess not. It was kind of jarring.
The guys returned to the stage, and Micky introduced the next song, “Daydream Believer”:
“Guess you probably know this one. When we were rehearsing, we knew we had to do this song. It was a huge, huge hit. We discussed who was gonna sing it. Would it be me, or Michael, or Peter, or all three of us? And we, actually, it was Michael that said, you know, ultimately, we can’t sing this song anymore; we don’t own it. But you do. You can sing it. Who would like to sing it with me?”
I knew I had very little chance of being picked because I wasn’t in the first row, but I waved my hand anyway because if I didn’t, I knew I would regret it for the rest of my life. There was a little part of me that thought maybe, just maybe… and also a little part of me that listened to the song a couple of times that day to make sure I knew the words just in case. It felt like Micky took a really long time to pick someone, but watching the video now, I can see that he didn’t. He picked a woman named Kristen sitting in the front row. He said, “I saw you all night long; you knew the lyrics to everything”. I was surprised that he didn’t pick the same person that sang “Goin’ Down”, because I thought that’s what he did in Cleveland, and I figured that the “Goin’ Down” bit was a test. Anyway, she came up on stage and led the audience in singing “Daydream Believer”. I think she might not have sung close enough to the mic at times, because I couldn’t always hear her very well, but she knew all the words and did a good job. After the song, Mike smiled and waved at her and gave her a double thumbs up, and I myself was, once again, deeply jealous.
Anyway, I realized that while how they do “Daydream Believer” is nice, it does have a downside, which is everyone who doesn’t get picked to go on stage is disappointed (or at least those of us who are slightly delusional). A few days before the show, I’d seen someone online who wanted to get their young child on stage in Cleveland, but that didn’t happen. There were certainly a lot of other people like me waving at Micky, hoping to be picked, but in the end, only one person is. Oh well.
“Oh, it’s been fun,” Mike said, “Still is”, and they started into “What Am I Doing Hangin’ ’Round”, and then everyone left the stage.
After a minute or so, Mike returned. I could hear Peter saying to Micky something like, “Well, Mike’s out there; I guess we better go too”. They played “Listen to the Band” with Micky introducing the band, and then ended with “Pleasant Valley Sunday”. “If you’re driving home tonight, please take a car,” Peter reminded us, and then they bowed and left the stage.
After the show, we sat and waited for a bit since the exits were at the back, and there were a lot of people in front of us. There was a crowd gathered around the stage, but from what I had read, there weren’t supposed to be any meet and greets or anything, so we didn’t wait much longer (and I better not hear about any now!). Getting out of the university took a little while, but the border to Canada was not far away, and we got through very quickly. The border guard asked where we went, and my dad said a concert and shopping.
“Where did you stay?”
“Is that where the concert was?”
“Well, Cleveland and Buffalo. There were two concerts.”
“Oh, The Monkees, or whatever?”
Border guard lady was clearly not impressed, and clearly not a fan of good music. I guess there were a lot of Monkees fans crossing the border that night.
It’s neat the things you notice when you’re up close. Mike looked at his iPad for lyrics quite a bit. Peter, just like he did in the TV show, still licks his lips a lot.
In Cleveland, when I was third row from the back, I thought Mike looked at me once (well… okay, that was probably just wishful thinking), but in Buffalo, I could see that he barely ever made eye contact with anyone in the front rows. I’ve seen professors do this, and I’ve done it myself during presentations since it’s much easier to look at people who are far away. Maybe it’s the whole invasion of space thing. Maybe Mike’s just a little shy.
However, at one point towards the end of the show when we were standing up, Mike pointed to at someone on my right and said/mouthed something. After the show, my mom—who was standing to my right—excitedly told me that Mike pointed at her and said, “I like your purple shirt”. Now, a couple of years ago, my mom also claimed that Pete Townshend jumped up and down and waved at her when she was standing at the top of the stairs in a gigantic stadium, so maybe she’s just a little delusional. I’d love to see a video of this moment, but I don’t remember when it happened.
After the concert, I felt sad. It was time to go back to real life. I was also sad because I know I will probably never get to see The Monkees in concert again. Now, I also thought last year’s tour would be the last, so you never know, but realistically, these things will just become less and less likely. I was also upset about how bad I am at being appreciative; I was so lucky to go to not only one, but two concerts, and to be in the second row for one, and I just felt like I wasn’t excited enough. I was also upset that I wasn’t upset; I wanted to want to cry during the concert, but I couldn’t. I guess I’m just not very good at showing emotion. Thanks for causing all this inner reflection, Monkees.
I was, however, very pleased with how my pictures came out. And no one ever said a thing about my camera or anyone else’s cameras that I could see.
After the first show, I thought about what I would have changed in the set list. One of my favourite Headquarters songs is “No Time”, and I would have loved to see them do that, especially if they each did a verse like they’ve done on past tours. “All of Your Toys” is another good Headquarters era song, though they did both of these songs on the tour last year. I think “Nine Times Blue” would have been nice if they did it kind of like on The Johnny Cash Show. There were only three songs from Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, LTD., which I think is one of their best, if not best, album; I might have swapped “Hangin’ ’Round” for “The Door Into Summer” (or “Salesman” or “Love is Only Sleeping”, but that’s only because I like those songs and not because I think they would work well live). I would have swapped “Papa Gene’s Blues” for “Good Clean Fun” maybe too, even though they were on completely different albums. I’m going to say swap “Mary, Mary” for “Midnight Train”, but only because I really like Micky and Coco singing together. I’m not a big fan of “Words”, but it would be nice to get the alternating Micky/Peter vocals.
A few months ago, The Monkees website had a form to fill out for what songs you wanted them to play on the tour. Sixteen of the twenty-five songs I picked were played, but then I also tried to pick ones I thought they actually would play, and not just my favourites. I also snuck “Steam Engine” and “Down the Highway (Michigan Blackhawk)” in there, since while I know there is no chance they would ever be played, I do adore those songs.
I read somewhere online before the concerts about Mike and Micky practicing the harmonies on some song. During the concert, however, I found I really only heard whoever was singing lead. But at least the non-Monkee singers weren’t louder than the lead singers, which is what seemed to happen last year.
As for Peter’s songs, I’m just not a fan of “Your Auntie Grizelda”, though I suppose it is the most well-known song with him singing lead. I would much prefer if he did “Tear the Top Right off My Head” or even “Come on In”, but I was happy with all his other songs, especially “Early Morning Blues and Greens”. I think he’s done “Higher and Higher” on Monkees tours before too, and I certainly wouldn’t have minded that song either. (And if we’re going to give each Monkee a solo song, I’m going to say “Since I Fell for You” for Micky and “Silver Moon” for Mike (which is not nearly my favourite of his solo stuff, but I think it could work in a Monkees show)).
I liked that they generally played the songs in the order they were released. I can see why they wouldn’t do anything from Pool it!, but something from Justus might have been nice. Then again, I’m not really a fan of that album, except for “It’s Not Too Late”, and I can’t imagine anyone but Davy singing that song.
I’m surprised they didn’t do “Sometime in the Morning”, especially considering Micky has released three versions of that song on has last two albums.
If I could change only one song on the set though, I would have had them do “Listen to the Band” like in 33 ⅓ Revolutions Per Monkee (but not the last thirty minutes of the song). Mike starts on the guitar and vocals, and then Micky and Peter come in, and then the full band… that would have been awesome.
Overall, the songs choices were great. They had all the big hits—“Clarksville”, “I’m a Believer”, and “Daydream Believer”—and then some very obscure songs—like “Daily Nightly”, “Tapioca Tundra”, and “Early Morning Blues and Greens”. I really liked the Headquarters set, and it was nice to get all of the songs from Head. The distribution of lead vocals was perfect. I must admit that I didn’t miss Davy’s love songs like “Valleri” and “It’s Nice to Be with You”, but I did miss his fun songs, like “She Hangs Out” and “Cuddly Toy”.
I continued to listen to my Monkees playlist on my iPod for a few days after the concerts, and somehow, the songs sound more real, more alive now. I think about how I was sad immediately after the concerts, but re-watching the videos, I’m feeling really happy about the whole thing. It was a great experience, and I’m really glad I had the opportunity to see them.
Artist: The Monkees
Place: University of Buffalo Center for the Arts, Buffalo, NY