The Uptown Theatre, a beautfiful 863-seat movie hall in Napa, CA. where the “A Midsummer's Night With the Monkees” tour stopped on Aug. 15, was the smallest venue on the tour that ends this week in the Northwest.
But this show, in this town known for its wineries, could have been "A Midsummer Night's Dream" because it had something that no other show on the tour was able to boast – a trip into the Monkees archives with a half hour of rare footage before the concert that was assembled and introduced by tour producer and Monkees manager Andrew Sandoval.
The show itself, which, like past tours, celebrated the hits and deep cuts by the group, was another reason why the Monkees deserve a lot more respect than they get in some corners.
The set by Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith included much of the same set we saw last year by the trio at Flint Center in Cupertino, CA., including “Last Train to Clarksville,” “Your Auntie Grizelda,” “Sweet Young Thing,” “Porpoise Song (Theme From 'Head')” and “Can You Dig It?” The entire two-hour (roughly) show was augmented by clips from the show in the background on a large movie screen.
There were a couple of new songs this time around. Michael Nesmith did a great job on ”The Door Into Summer” and “The Kind of Girl I Could Love,” Micky Dolenz added “No Time” and “Words.”
Highlights from the special half hour of Monkees rarities before the concert included TV commercials from Kellogg's and Kool-Aid and a clip from a very early Monkees skit with Mike Nesmith and Davy Jones with two other actors instead of Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork.
Mike, Micky and Peter turned in exceptional performances throughout the night. Micky, especially, was in superb voice. Mike, dressed in silver glitter boots and a white jacket that covered a shirt that said "Repo Man" (that's the 1984 film starring Harry Dean Stanton that he executive produced), smiled all night, as did Peter. The three guys looked like they were having a great time, and there was a lot of smiling and joking with the audience at the small venue.
Maybe as a subtle jab at those who don't take them seriously, the show featured two sections to devoted to “Headquarters,” their third album and the first where they took charge of the music, and “Head,” their image-shattering movie.
The songs performed from “Headquarters,” including “She,” "No Time," “You Told Me,” "For Pete's Sake," "Randy Scouse Git," “Sunny Girlfriend” and “You Just May Be the One,” proved they were great on their own. “Head” flipped the bird to the rock establishment and, in retrospect, was an incredibly courageous move, even if no one seemed to get the joke.
As did the last tour, this one featured the emotional audience sing-along of “Daydream Believer,” and “Pleasant Valley Sunday” to close the show.
The backup band, which as before, included Micky's sister, Coco, on vocals, and Mike Nesmith's son, Christian, playing guitar, was superb. But the superb interaction of the Monkees' members and the band and the show as a whole was yet another affirmation that the Monkees are for real.
And despite all the joking around they do during the shows, they richly deserve to be taken seriously for all the great music. So what are you waiting for, Rock Hall of Fame?
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