The Monkees at Centre in the Square, Kitchener, ON on June 19, 2018
Place: Centre in the Square, Kitchener, ON
If you haven’t already, check out my review of the Toronto show the night before, since I reference some events from that show here.
On the way to the venue before the show, I was thinking about writing this review, and I was wasn’t really looking forward to it. I figured I had already covered everything in the Toronto review, and it was just going to be the same show again tonight.
I was so wrong, and I could not be more happy.
Before the show
There’s not too much to tell this time; I didn’t have any Micky sightings, and I didn’t buy any merch tonight.
I brought my camera this time, and security wasn’t checking purses. Lots of people throughout the show were taking pictures with their cell phones both nights, and I didn’t see anyone being stopped. I didn’t see anyone else with real cameras either though, so I only used mine after the intermission, but no one said anything to me.
Some of the pre-show songs were the same, some were different. I’m almost certain they played an alternate take of “Lazy Lady”. My mom commented that it seems like they should be playing anything but Monkees songs before the show. It’s almost like she thinks you can have too much Monkees? Anyway, I pointed out they were playing the second version of “Me & Magdalena”, and they’d be playing the first version in the show, which is totally different.
As it was nearing 8:00, I looked behind me and noticed the back row of the theatre was full, but there was a large section of seats in front of that that were still empty. Some seats in the rows directly in front of and behind me were also empty, and they stayed the way for that entire show, which was nice for me, but probably a bit disappointing for the band. I thought it was a little odd that they picked Kitchener as a venue, since it’s not a really big or well known city, so I wasn’t really surprised the place wasn’t full.
It started out basically the same as the Toronto show—“Good Clean Fun”, “Last Train to Clarksville”, “Sunny Girlfriend”, “Mary, Mary”—alternating between Mike and Micky vocals.
After “Clarksville”, Micky said, “Welcome to the Mike and Micky show! Brought to you by maracas!” and he held up his maracas. Mike added, “Pair of red maracas.”
Christian started into the next song, which sounded to me a bit like “Auntie’s Municipal Court”, but he quickly stopped and said, “Hold on, hold on! Sorry!” Then they started into “Sunny Girlfriend”.
When they do “Sunny Girlfriend” live, I always expect Mike to add some extra bits like he did on Live 1967 (“She’s got a book that tells about everybody’s past—yes, she does, it’s a book, and it can tell about everybody’s past”). He didn’t do that in Toronto, so I didn’t expect him to do it here either, but then he did; I’m not sure what he actually said though.
If we follow the set list from the previous night, next up should have been “You Told Me”, but instead, Mike left the stage, and Micky started into “D.W. Washburn”. They had previously added “Washburn” to the Canadian show during the Micky & Peter tour because the song was a hit in Canada, so that was neat of them to do it again. Micky seemed especially enthusiastic during this song; it’s a shame they don’t do it at every show.
Mike came back, they did two more Micky songs, and then Mike left again, which seemed odd. Of the first seven songs, we’d only had two Mike lead vocals, whereas the night before, we’d had four by that time.
They started into the next song, and at first, I was thinking it was “That Was Then, This Is Now”, because that made sense to me—Micky’s done that song live before, and Mike wasn’t involved with it, so it made sense that he was offstage.
I don’t know when I finally figured it out, but when I did, I audibly gasped. It was “Steam Engine”. “Steam Engine” is one of my all time favourite songs, and I was so disappointed when they didn’t perform it at Casino Rama during the Micky & Peter tour.
You know when people say they feel like they’re going to burst from happiness? I can confirm that it is an actual physical feeling, and I know exactly what it feels like. I’m generally a pretty calm person, and I don’t usually show much emotion, so it was a pretty big deal when I raised my hands in the air and clapped after this song; my mom told me she was shocked. I am so glad there is video of this song on YouTube, because I don’t think I actually processed any of it during the actual show.
After that, Mike returned to the stage just as Micky was walking off. Mike called after him, “Where are you going? I just got here. Hey.”
After Mike finished “Some of Shelly’s Blues” and Micky returned to the stage, someone in the audience yelled out, “I love you Mike!” That was quickly followed by other people yelling out in turn, “We love you too!”, “We love you both!”, and “We love you all!” which prompted Mike to remark, “This is an amped up crowd!”
After “The Girl I Knew Somewhere”, Mike told the audience, “Okay, I’m gonna turn it back over, but if you don’t hear from me in like five minutes, send somebody out.”
Next, we got another new song: “Sometime in the Morning”. It seems to have taken the place of “Accidental Hipster”, which is a shame, because I was all prepared to applaud at the right time this time.
About a minute and a half into “Sometime in the Morning”, something started sounding really off. I looked around at everyone on stage, trying to figure out whose guitar was making that noise, but the sound didn’t match up with anything I was seeing. It seemed to me that the band was equally as confused. Micky and the band didn’t miss a beat though, and they carried on with the song. I’m not sure how long it went on for, but it seemed like ages.
When the song was over, Micky handed the stage over to Mike, and as Micky was leaving, Mike said, “Hey, wait a minute, but… did you hear me tuning my guitar?” After that, Mike played the final new song of the evening: “Propinquity”. This seemed to take the place of “St. Matthew”. They cut out some good songs, but they replaced them with good songs too, so I can’t really complain.
During “Circle Sky”, Christian pulled at his shirt to show off his t-shirt underneath, and it wasn’t until that moment that I realized he was wearing a Triumph shirt. I thought that was really cool, and I wondered if it was the same one Mike had in the ’60s. I mentioned the shirt to my mom during intermission, and she pointed out the shirt actually said “Nesmith”.
The intro to “Papa Gene’s Blues” was adorable, and it had an audience reaction I don’t think I’ve ever seen at any concert:
Micky: When we first got together as “The Monkees”, when we were cast into that show, of course, so we started hanging out, filming the show, and started playing, noodling around with instruments like between the scenes and stuff, and it turns out that Nez was about the only one that had ever written a song, and so those were the ones that we naturally started gravitating to, sitting around the campfire, so to speak, and this particular one here we’re gonna is the first song I remember singing and playing with you. It’s near and dear to my heart.
Mike: Mine too.
And then, the audience went “aww”. It was a really sweet moment. After that, Mike added, “Hey, listen, you know. Brothers from different mothers. Mick and I, we had a great run… so far.”
The toned-down version they did of “Randy Scouse Git” was neat. I’m always impressed at how well Micky matches the rhythm of the “deedle deedle doo boo dee boo” bit to the original record.
Before “Nine Times Blue”, Mike made a face and went, “Oh no!” and then added, “One of you guys’ll have to cover for me.” I’m not sure what happened, but I guess there was something wrong with his guitar.
One thing I noticed at both shows was that crowd almost always applauded for the pedal steel guitar solos, but the other instruments didn’t get as much love. Personally, I always feel like applauding after the keyboard (organ? celeste?) solo in “I’ll Spend My Life With You”, but it didn’t seem like anyone else did. I don’t really get that, but I don’t know much about playing instruments either.
After “Take a Giant Step”, a guy in the audience yelled out, “Door into Summer!” A woman behind me yelled out, “Joanne, Joanne!” After a brief silence, someone on the other side of the theatre yelled “Auntie Grizelda!”, which earned some applause and cheers from the audience, or maybe just from me. Mike responded, “We could do ‘I’m Gonna Buy Me a Dog’”, to which the crowd applauded and cheered wildly. Mike covered his mouth, surprised, then kind of spoke-sang-chuckled, “I’m gonna buy me a dog, I’m gonna buy me a dog…” Then he added, “I shouldn’t have said anything!”
This crowd was a lot calmer than the Toronto crowd, and I wondered if maybe Micky wouldn’t have an audience member sing the second verse of “Goin’ Down”. Then I wondered if Micky even remembered the words to the second verse. Then I wondered how inappropriate it would be for me to yell the words out from the seventh row. Luckily, I didn’t have to do that, because Micky remembered the words just fine.
During the band introductions, Micky referred to the drummer as “Mr. Rich ‘I-taught-him-everything-he-knows’ Dart!”
During “Daydream Believer”, Micky did a little Davy dance-esque shuffle that I’ve never noticed before.
The girl next to me literally squeed during “Listen to the Band”. I was snapping some photos during the song, and maybe I was imagining things, but I felt like Mike looked right at me, urging me to put down the camera and, y’know, listen to the band.
After the show, as the crowd was leaving, I thought I saw Andrew Sandoval walking through the crowd right past me, so I ended up yelling “THANK YOU SO MUCH” in his face. If you weren’t Andrew Sandoval, I apologize, and if you were Andrew Sandoval, I still apologize.
- 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”
- “D.W. Washburn”
- “For Pete’s Sake”
- “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone”
- “Steam Engine”
- “Some of Shelly’s Blues”
- “The Girl I Knew Somewhere”
- “Sometime in the Morning”
- “(Propinquity) I’ve Just Begun to Care”
- “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”