Monkees get high and dry on sixties nostalgia
July 17, 2011
We all live in the past to an extent but some groups like the 1960s TV band sensation the Monkees take it to the extreme.
Their recent gig at the Chumash Casino proved that baby boomer nostalgia is alive and well, but we kind of knew that already. The Monkees were in fact created as an American equivalent to the British Invasion and the Beatles.
However, there’s an important difference between them and the Fab Four: the Beatles wrote their own songs and played their own instruments – quite well I might add.
The Monkees were basically the first boy band long before Marky Mark and Justin Timberlake were a gleam in anyone’s eye.
None of this really seemed to matter to the nearly sold-out crowd of mostly yuppie boomers, who came to relive their carefree, innocent and idealistic youth for a few hours. And they weren’t disappointed as the band busted out all of their big hits while scenes from their TV show illuminated a big screen behind them.
Nothing wrong with that except this “reunion” show seemed totally contrived and forced from the start. As Hal Holbrooks’s character in “Wall Street” says to Charlie Sheen: “that’s the thing about money son, it makes you do things you don’t wanna do.”
Billed as “An Evening with the Monkees, 45th Anniversary Tour” — Peter Tork, Mickey Dolenz and Davy Jones pranced around the stage, took turns singing and played an occasional instrument. They didn’t have to worry too much about the latter since there were eight other musicians to back them up. It was like Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey had a bad acid trip and found themselves in 2011 playing sixties bubble gum pop. Strange.
And they actually had three drummers on stage, including Dolenz. Really?
Other than a bass/drum heavy mix that thumped interminably drowning out guitars, keyboards and the periodic sax/trombone, overall the music overall sounded crisp and in tune. The lead guitarist looked like your dentist but played like Eddie Van Halen.
The problem wasn’t the music, it was the passion, soul and emotion behind it. Or lack thereof.
In all fairness, how do you find that deep feeling in a song you didn’t even write and mimicked on television a generation ago? But the three lads did their level best to recapture that spirit of 66.
Tork seems to have the most personality of the trio — often making fun of himself and playfully interacting with the crowd. But he was also clueless when suggesting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame come calling and that unlike some other bands already inducted, the Monkees actually play their own instruments.
If that’s the case, why do you need an 11-piece band on your tour? Plus, I can think of 20 groups without even trying who deserve a Hall of Fame spot before the Monkees.