Mike Nesmith at Narrows Center for the Arts, Fall River, MA on November 11, 2013
This was the second show I went to on the fall 2013 Movies of the Mind tour. The first show I went to was the day before, at Bull Run Restaurant in Shirley, MA. That review contains more of my first impressions and general thoughts on the songs, while this review points out things that were different in the second show, and it covers the conversation reception after the show.
The venue, the seats
If the Bull Run Restaurant wasn’t what I was expecting, then the Narrows Center was even more of a surprise. I thought it would look more like the University of Buffalo Center for the Arts, though considering that that venue seats about five times more people, I guess it makes sense that the Narrows was smaller. It was dark when we got there, so we didn’t get a good look at the outside, but the Center was located in a small city street, lots of other buildings nearby. The tour bus was parked on the street in front of the building. There weren’t any big signs saying “Narrows Center”, so I wasn’t even sure we were in the right place at first.
Inside, we went up to the second or third floor. There was a big room with white walls and some neat looking kind of black flowery wire fence type stuff on the walls. I think there were also some other art pieces in the room as well.
We had to wait in line to pick up our tickets. “Will call” tickets could be picked up after 7, and we got there around 7:15. There was a line-up for both people who already had tickets and those who had to pick them up. It was general admission, and there were already a lot of people there.
We picked up our tickets, and I got a wristband (a gold one this time) and sticker (which seemed to come in at least three different colours: purple, red, and yellow). While we were waiting in line, someone behind me noticed my records and asked which ones I had. I didn’t even notice at first that someone was trying to talk to me, and my mom had to nudge me to get me to pay attention. I showed him my Infinite Rider album, and he asked what year the album was released. I said I think 1979, which he said was what he was thinking.
We picked seats in the second row to the right of the stage this time. The front row and most of the middle section was already taken. There were also round tables all around the stage, but those were reserved.
There were only about three or four rows of seats after the tables, so there weren’t any bad seats in the place, unless you were sitting in front of one of the pillars. I was right next to a pillar, so no one would be walking by me if they had to get up, and a few seats next to my mom were empty, so we ended up moving over to the right by one seat during the show to get a better view.
Before the show, someone from the Narrows Center talked a bit about upcoming events, and then we had a few seconds of silence for Veterans Day.
The band entered the stage from a door at the back of the room. Again, Mike did not join them until his name was announced. While we were waiting for him to appear, someone in the audience yelled out “MICHAEL!”, and then someone else yelled “Save the Texas Prairie Chicken!”.
I don’t remember seeing any signs about flash photography, and there were no announcements, so there were a lot of people taking flash photos. It seemed like most people only took a couple of photos during the first song, and that was it, so it wasn’t too bad. I didn’t take too many pictures at this show either, because I thought the camera screen would be distracting to people behind me.
In this review, I’ll be leaving out a lot of the songs that they played; if you’re interested in reading about all the songs, check out my review from November 10.
While Mike was narrating the vignette, Chris Scruggs accidentally strummed the mandolin. Mike ad-libbed, “The convivial crowd, the taxis… the sound of a mandolin being tuned…”
There’s a YouTube video that makes me think it was during the introduction for this vignette that someone in the audience yelled “WOO!”. Mike stopped talking, looked in the direction of the noise, made a face, shook his head, and kind of stage-whispered, “Thankyou!” and everyone laughed.
I’m not sure if they changed this song up at all from the previous night, but I thought towards the end of the song when the band members were joining in on backing vocals sounded really good and very strong.
Another little hiccup occurred while Mike was introducing these songs. Joe Chemay must have accidentally hit a button on his sound board thing, and it played a noise from “Dance” while Mike was talking about the astronaut on the International Space Station. “He wakes up…”—BOOGIEDOWN!—“…turns on the radio…” Everyone started laughing. After a while, Mike asked, “What’s that hooked up to, anyway?” “The International Space Station?” Joe replied.
“Cruisin’”, “Dance”, “Tonite”
After this triptych, Mike said something like, “For those of you who never saw Elephant Parts, please excuse us.”
I never really noticed before that in “Dance”, he very distinctly rhymes “dolla” with “holla”, and not “dollar” and “holler”. This amused me.
Towards the end of “Tonite”, there’s a keyboard solo. I thought it sounded particularly good, but there wasn’t a lot of applause after like after most solos, so I don’t know if it pre-recorded or not.
During the introduction to the song, when Mike was describing the tight red dress she was wearing, he kind of growled, “Oh yeaaah”.
The conversation reception
I noticed that Mike seemed quite a bit more talkative and cheerful during this show, which made me glad I was meeting him that night and not the previous one.
After the show, a lot of the audience kind of hung around, chatting, dawdling. The email instructions for the conversation reception pass said that people with a pass should wait in the theatre until the hall cleared; I could tell that was going to take a while. A man approached my mom and I and asked if we were waiting. My mom said I had a wristband. He said I should go stand over by one side of the room. There was no one else standing there yet, so I waited around some more. Then, another man made an announcement for people who didn’t have a wristband to leave, and for people with wristbands to go stand over there. Some other people started going over there, so I did too.
There was a young woman there who started talking to one of the guys there. I wasn’t sure if they knew each other, or if other people are somehow able to start conversations with people they don’t know? There was a teenage girl there with her mom, and they both seemed very excited to meet Mike. The girl mentioned Tumblr, and I wanted to say something to her, but I’m shy. They started talking to a young man who said he was a middle school computer teacher, and the mom said she used to be a teacher too. There was a boy, probably a teenager, with I would guess his dad. They had one of those Monkees finger puppets. There were a bunch of other people behind me who I didn’t get a good look at.
We all stood around for a while, and then Mike came out of the back room. He had changed out of the purple jacket he was wearing during the show, and he was now wearing a dark coloured hoodie. I didn’t notice if he was still wearing the sparkly Jimmy Choos. He stopped to talk with some people outside the room, then he made his way to where the crowd was standing. I think he started cheering, so we all clapped and cheered too. He stood by a podium that someone had set up earlier. The two people closest to him, I think a guy and girl, went up to talk to him first.
We were kind of all standing in a mob and not a line, so I figured I would end up being one of the last people to talk to him since I didn’t want to be rude and cut in front of anyone. Then the girl and her mom went up, and a couple of other people who were alone, and then we were kind of in a line.
I tried not to pay attention to what other people were saying to him, because I felt like I was eavesdropping. Someone was talking to Mike about what sounded like a girl and something sad; I didn’t realize until after the show that they were probably talking about Mike’s dog, Dale. I think Mike might have said something about it being sad, but it was her time to go.
The girl’s mom said something about wanting to marry Mike when she was younger, and she pointed out her husband who was sitting nearby. The girl had a copy of The Long Sandy Hair of Neftoon Zamora that Mike had already signed, and Mike asked, “You want me to sign it again?”.
One of the guys who went up alone had some sort of rare test pressing of an album. I think he had a copy of Live at the Palais, and Mike said there was nowhere to sign it since the cover is mostly black, and he asked if anyone had a silver pen. No one did, so the guy said for him to sign on the small white shirt part of the cover. He seemed like one of those very hardcore knowledgeable fans. It was interesting to see all the different types of people and how they interacted with Mike.
I noted during the first show that Mike talked rather quickly during the vignettes, which is something I do when I’m speaking in front of a crowd too. I think there’s a general consensus among fans that Mike is not a very outgoing social type person; neither am I—if you couldn’t already tell. I figured that Mike was going to be just as nervous to meet us as we were to meet him. So, I decided that I would have to be the confident one; I was going to go up there and take charge and tell him the show was great and get my record signed and get my picture taken and be respectful and pleasant and not take up too much of his time.
Well, after waiting for about four or five other people to meet him before me, I was starting to get nervous, and my knees were getting a little shaky. For a split second, I thought that maybe I would faint, but I quickly pushed that thought out of my mind.
While the guy before me was talking to Mike, I realized I should start getting ready: taking my records out of their bag, taking the lens off my camera. There was a young woman there who was taking pictures for people, and she asked me if I wanted her to take pictures. I said, “Yes please”. When it was my turn, I handed her the camera and said, “It’s this button here. Thank you so much.”
I must have done something silly right off the bat, because he had to remind me to tell him my name. I said Jenny, and he said “Jenny?”, and I said yes. He might have held out his hand for a handshake, but I can’t remember shaking hands; I think I might have just handed him my records.
He asked if I was from around here, and I said I was from Canada. He gave me that wide-eyed look—you know the one:
He asked if I came there just for the concert or for something else. I said mostly for the concert, but also for a hockey game.
He asked if I wanted his autograph on the record to be personalized, and I said, “Yes please”. He asked if it was Jenny with an n-n-y or an n-n-i-e or something else, and I said, “Yes. Uh, n-n-y.”
While he was signing the first record, I remembered I wanted to thank him for doing the show, so I said something like, “Thank you for the show, it was really good”. He seemed a little thrown off by my comment—maybe because I managed to string together a coherent sentence with more than three words?—and then he said something like, “Thank you; it was really fun to play”, and I said, “Yes” (so much for full sentences).
Then, he went to sign my Monkees record, Then and Now, which had already been signed by the other three Monkees. He said, “Looks like you’ve got a grand slam”, and I said, “Yes”. He asked if I wanted that one personalized too, and he must have looked at the other signatures because he said all the other guys had done it, and I said, “Yes please”.
He asked if I wanted a picture. I laughed and said, “Yes please”, realizing I had already said that at least twice already. He had his arm around me, hovering slightly above my shoulder, and the woman took two pictures. Then, she gave me back my camera and said I should check to make sure it worked, because the camera did something weird. I looked at the last picture and realized the camera was in the wrong mode, said so, changed it, and gave the camera back to her. She took two more pictures, which turned out much better. I’m so glad she caught that, though I wish I had realized it before handing the camera to her.
Yet another socially-awkward thing Mike and I seem to have in common is our inability to smile with our teeth showing for photos. However, in between the time that the woman took the first two pictures, a great big involuntary grin appeared on my face for half a second. I imagine it looked kind of like this:
I had heard that a few people who went to his shows in the spring had gotten a hug from Mike, but it didn’t sound like he would just offer hugs; if I wanted one, I would have to ask. Now, I’m very much not a hugging person. I always felt awkward when friends would want to hug on the last day of school or things like that. And what if Mike didn’t really want to give hugs? I didn’t want to put him in an awkward position. But I knew that if I didn’t at least ask, I would regret it for the rest of my life (this thought also occurred to me when Micky was asking for someone from the audience to come sing “Daydream Believer” last fall, and though I didn’t get picked, I don’t at all regret waving my hand around). I also knew I would feel silly asking all needy-like, “Can I have a hug?”, so I knew I would have to come up with a better way to say it that would hopefully also allow him to say no if he didn’t want to.
The woman handed me back my camera. I put it down on the podium with my records and said something like, “And um… I heard you give really good hugs, so like um…”. Then it all happened very fast, but I think Mike opened his arms wide and maybe said something, so I knew it was okay. I put my arms around him and he put his arms around me and I think I had my head slightly on his chest. I was sure the hug only lasted for half a second before we let go. My mom and dad were watching out in the hallway, and she said it was a good hug; not too fast, and not crazy stalkerishly long. Some people online had commented that he smelled nice, but I distinctly remember trying and failing to smell anything. I also distinctly remember thinking that he felt really skinny.
I’m not sure if was before, during, or after the hug, but Mike asked, “Where did you hear that?” and I responded, “Well, actually, it’s all over the internet”. I think that he may have laughed—I’d like to believe that he did so I can say that I made Mike Nesmith laugh—and he might have said something like, “Well, it would be, wouldn’t it?”. Or that could have been someone else, like his security guard, that said that; I was a little out-of-it.
After that, I quickly grabbed my camera and records and said something like, “Thank you it was good okay thanks bye” and left.
After the show
I went out to meet my parents in the hall. There were a few other people hanging around, waiting for people at the reception. My parents had been talking to two guys, Scott and Steve, and they introduced me to them. They had noticed my mom’s poppy on her coat and asked her about it; turns out they were originally from Ontario, but they had moved to Boston when they were young. My mom said they had probably been to a lot of the same concerts we had been to. She had mentioned my website to them, and one of them said they had heard of it. They had also done security for the Monkees during the Walk of Fame ceremony in the ’80s. We talked to them for quite a while, but I wasn’t really paying attention very well because I was still nervous and excited.
My mom said that while I was in the other room, she had mentioned to someone that when I was younger, I hated the Beatles and thought the Monkees were so much better. There was a young girl there who said she felt that same way and that we would have been friends.
There was another girl waiting in the hall who I may have been giving funny looks to because I could have sworn she was one of the girls from Naked Persimmon, but I wasn’t sure, so I didn’t want to go up and ask her in case she wasn’t. Turns out it was her!
Thoughts on the conversation reception
When I did presentations in school and didn’t feel nervous, I was usually told by friends afterwards that I looked a little nervous. So when I actually am nervous, I must look really nervous. And despite convincing myself that I needed to be the confident one, I failed miserably. I must have looked to Mike like a frightened thirteen year old girl just like the ones in the ’60s. I didn’t notice any of the people who went before me looking nervous at all.
When I read about other people meeting their idols, they always seem to have things they want to ask them. Things like, I guess, what is this song about? What do you think of this thing? I’m not really sure what kind of things they ask, actually. I’ve never been able to come up with a question I would want to ask anyone I’m a fan of.
There were things I wish I had said differently. I wish I had mentioned how awesome “Propinquity” was in particular. I wish I could have talked to him about geeky computer stuff. I wish I had mentioned I’d been waiting just over ten years to complete my “grand slam”. I wish I had said that I came down to Massachusetts for both his shows, and they were both great. I wish I hadn’t mentioned the hockey game, which made it sound like his show wasn’t the most important show ever to me—or at least said something clever like, “Typical Canadian; come to the States to see a hockey game”. I wish I would have thought to press the record button on my camera before I handed it to the woman so I could actually know what he said to me and what I said to him.
But I’m not hung up on any of those things at all; everyone forgets something that they wanted to say. After the concert, I found myself feeling overwhelmingly satisfied with the whole experience. I was happy that I had remembered to thank him for the show, and I was happy that I came up with a nice way to ask for a hug, and I was even happy that I kept saying “Yes please” and sounded silly afterwards assuring him that the hug was indeed good.
After the Bull Run show, I found myself thinking that maybe I was over Mike and the Monkees. After the Narrows Center show, I knew that wasn’t the case: I loved them just as much if not more.
Artist: Mike Nesmith
Place: Narrows Center for the Arts, Fall River, MA