The Monkees at Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto, ON on June 18, 2018
Artist: The Monkees
Place: Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto, ON
Before the show
Just before 7:00, we were driving near the venue. There was a guy walking down the street wearing a fedora, and I chuckled to myself, “hey, look, it’s Micky”
…and um, it was.
This looks like it’s going to be a good night.
The lobby doors didn’t open until 7:30, so my mom and I walked down the street a bit. We stopped into a clothing store, and I suddenly wished I had taken a picture of Micky so I could go and buy the same outfit he was wearing. Although, what he was wearing on the street wasn’t what he wore during the show, but the thought amused me anyway.
At 7:30, we went into the lobby. I didn’t bring my camera to the show, because I had read online that this venue was very strict about photography. I just had a tiny purse with me, which I opened for the security guy, but he was like, “There’s nothing I’m looking for that could fit in there”. So moral of the story: I need a fold-up camera.
The theatre doors didn’t open until 8:00, and the show didn’t start until 8:30, so next stop was the merch table. I bought a tour book and the black Mike & Micky shirt. I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t have any women’s shirts. There were a few other shirts, the tablecloth poncho, a mug, a pack of four buttons, a poster, a beach towel, the Blu-ray box set, and the mega-super-deluxe version of More of the Monkees, or whatever the latest one is called. There was also a hoodie that I really liked, but I seem to recall it was something like $80. As was the case at the Micky & Peter shows, the prices are a bit higher at the Canadian venues.
Whenever I’m in my seat waiting for the show to begin, I always look around the room to see if I know anyone, but I never do; there are very few Monkees fans whose faces I would recognize anyway. I also always wonder if I’m sitting next to someone I’ve talked with online before.
I noticed a pair of red maracas near the front of the stage, and I was really hoping Mike might play them like he did in “Monkees on Tour”, but no luck.
The pre-show music was great, as always. It’s so neat to hear these songs being played in public. I think “Love War” was playing as we walked in, and I believe there was also a cover of “Two Different Roads”. I don’t recall what other songs were played, but it was mostly Mike and Micky solo stuff. I don’t know if it was just because I was hearing it in a big theatre rather than in my room, but I thought the songs sounded ever so slightly slower than normal.
I try to avoid seeing set list spoilers as much as I can. It was pretty easy for me this year, because I had been on vacation almost since the tour started. Unfortunately, I did happen to see that they would be playing “St. Matthew” this year, but the rest of the show was a surprise to me.
It wasn’t until halfway through “Good Clean Fun” that I realized what song they were playing; I just kinda figured it was “Papa Gene’s Blues”, because that seemed like a song they might open with. “Good Clean Fun” was a much better choice though, considering it’s The Monkees Present tour.
It took a little while before I realized that they didn’t have any video screens. There was a screen behind them that said “The Mike & Micky Show”, but there were no videos. This wasn’t a big deal for me, since I was sitting in the fifth row, but I wonder how it was for people up in the balconies.
This tour must be one of the few times Micky has taken lead vocal on “For Pete’s Sake” at a Monkees concert, which was cool. I’m glad they’ve got a nod to Peter in the show.
Before “The Door Into Summer”, Mike announced that he had a Toronto story to tell us. He talked about his friend Bill Martin and the bit he did in Elephant Parts where he pretended to read a solicitation letter from The Foundation for the Tragically Hip, which, of course, is where the Canadian band The Tragically Hip got their name. Mike was trying to remember the lead singer’s name; at first, I think he said Gordon, but a handful of people in the audience reminded him it was Gord Downie. Mike said he didn’t know if Bill Martin ever knew about it, but Mike knew, and he appreciated it.
As we got to the end of “Birth of an Accidental Hipster”, I reminded myself, okay, don’t clap yet, this is just the fake-out ending… but then they started right into “St. Matthew”, so I didn’t get to clap for “Hipster”, and I felt bad because it’s such a great song.
After that, they played “Porpoise Song”, so I wondered what they were gonna do, was there gonna be a fake-out ending or not? I was a little mad that they did the fake-out ending for “Porpoise” but not “Hipster”, but not as mad as I would be if they didn’t do the ending for “Porpoise”, because that ending is awesome.
I quite liked how they did the backing vocals in “As We Go Along”. I watched a video from an older tour, and it looks like they’ve been doing the song that way for a while, but it really stood out to me tonight.
After the intermission, they did an acoustic set, which I loved. (Check out Micky’s costume change—he came back wearing a Loose Salute t-shirt under his jacket.)
They started with just Micky, Mike, Wayne, and Christian on the stage, and then the rest of the band slowly joined them. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying I would love to see an entire acoustic show, though I can understand why they don’t do that—I don’t think the casual fans would really dig it. It occurred to me during this show that I’d even go to a show where none of the Monkees showed up, and the band just did instrumental versions of all the songs.
At one point between songs, people in the audience were yelling things, and Mike said something to the effect of “You know, I never have any idea what you’re saying”. Then he began to yell out things like “I love you, Micky!” in a high pitched voice.
At another point, Mike made some strange noises, which he described as something like a southern instrument that sounds like Bali whales when they are really ticked off.
Between songs, Micky asked Mike, “Is this next song about getting a ticket?” and Mike said something like, “No, this song is about being very, very high”. The song was “Auntie’s Municipal Court”. After that, Mike introduced the next song by saying he’s been wanting to do this song live for fifty years, and then they played “Sweet Young Thing”… which I seem to recall them playing in 2012. And on Live 1967. Maybe I misheard, and he was actually referring to the previous song.
Every once in a while, I was scoping out the people in the front row and trying to figure out who Micky would pick to sing “Goin’ Down”. There was a blonde woman who was singing and bopping along every time I looked over, so I thought it might be her, and it was. Micky made a good choice; she nailed it.
Micky did the band introductions in the middle of “Goin’ Down”. The first line of the song after the introductions is “now the sky is getting light”, at which point, the lights go up. Nice little touch there.
During “Daydream Believer”, Micky led the audience in a sing along. After the audience sang the chorus once, he said, “Very good! Now, in Latin!” It delighted and not at all surprised me when Mike actually attempted to follow his instructions.
After “Pleasant Valley Sunday”, everyone but Mike left the stage. Mike started into “Listen to the Band”, and I don’t know if they intended this moment to be reminiscent of 33 ⅓ Revolutions Per Monkee, but that’s what I thought of. Since this was near the end of the show, some of the audience wandered up to the stage to dance and sing along. There was even a dude in a tie-dyed shirt—how could I not think of the end of 33 ⅓?
As they were doing their bows and leaving the stage, a voice announced, “That’s Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith: The Monkees!” I kinda went urgh, because that just doesn’t seem right, right?
Overall, this was a very serious show for a Monkees concert. There was no “I’m told I had a good time”, no tablecloth, no “She” microphone tricks, no Mike’s Moog. I was even a little surprised that they still had an audience member sing the second verse of “Goin’ Down”; other than that, I can’t really think of any bits they re-used from previous tours. That’s not to say there were no funny bits; I mentioned a few funny moments above, and every time Mike left the stage, he shuffled off in a silly way. Christian did silly things like that too; he really reminds me so much of Mike.
A part of me misses the old jokes, but another part of me is glad that they don’t do things like Mike’s Moog on every tour, because then it loses its magic.
I’m still a bit disappointed I missed out on “Steam Engine” during the Micky & Peter tour, and I was hoping they’d do it again this year. I was expecting they might play “Love Is Only Sleeping”, “Daily Nightly”, or maybe “Propinquity”, because they’ve done those ones before, but the songs they did choose were very good. I’m pretty sure they had all the great Micky/Mike harmony songs in there, like “The Girl I Knew Somewhere”, “Pleasant Valley Sunday”, “Randy Scouse Git”, “Me & Magdalena”, and “Birth of an Accidental Hipster”.
I’m quite happy with the set list and show; it’s always cool to see a different permutation of The Monkees.
Check out my review of the Kitchener show the next night too.
- Paul Kramer - fiddle, guitar, banjo
- Wayne Avers - guitar, backing vocals
- John Billings - bass
- Alex Jules - keyboards, backing vocals
- Rich Dart - drums, backing vocals
- Pete Finney - pedal steel, guitar
- Coco Dolenz - backing vocals, percussion
- Circe Link - backing vocals
- Christian Nesmith - guitar, backing vocals
The set list
- “Good Clean Fun”
- “Last Train to Clarksville”
- “Sunny Girlfriend”
- “Mary, Mary”
- “You Told Me”
- “For Pete’s Sake”
- “The Door Into Summer”
- “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone”
- “You Just May Be the One”
- “Some of Shelly’s Blues”
- “The Girl I Knew Somewhere”
- “Birth of an Accidental Hipster”
- “St. Matthew”
- “Porpoise Song (Theme from ‘Head’)”
- “Circle Sky”
- “As We Go Along”
- “Me & Magdalena”
- “Papa Gene’s Blues”
- “Randy Scouse Git”
- “Nine Times Blue”
- “I’ll Spend My Life with You”
- “Different Drum”
- “Take a Giant Step”
- “Auntie’s Municipal Court”
- “Sweet Young Thing”
- “Goin’ Down”
- “Daydream Believer”
- “What Am I Doing Hangin’ ’Round?”
- “Pleasant Valley Sunday”
- “Listen to the Band”
- “I’m a Believer”