Chicago Theatre Review
Monkee Business at City Winery
Micky Dolenz – City Winery
Forever Monkee Micky Dolenz proved with his multimedia performance Wednesday night at City Winery how much we still love the Monkees! Growing up watching the Monkees on TV made this night a real treat for us Monkeemaniacs! Sure we all know the story. A band made for TV, they didn’t play on their songs, they didn’t write their songs, etc., etc. Let’s review: The concept of the Monkees was created by Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider after being inspired by The Beatles’ classic movie “A Hard Day’s Night”. As Mickey explains the concept “it was a TV show about an imaginary band … that wanted to be the Beatles but was never successful.” Ironically the Monkees became one of the most successful bands of the 1960s, selling more than 75 million records worldwide, even out selling The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined in 1967!
Auditions were held and the members were handpicked: Michael Nesmith, a talented guitarist and songwriter, Peter Tork, another talented multi-instrumentalist , Micky Dolenz, an actor and singer who became the drummer , Davy Jones, a British actor/singer who became the band’s heartthrob. With producer Don Kirshner and an incredible list of songwriters like Carol King, Neil Diamond, Harry Nilsson, Boyce & Hart and of course members of the Monkees themselves in addition to a hit TV show to promote their songs, (hello MTV!), it’s no wonder they churned out the hits one by one. At first they were brought into the studio just to add voices but a revolt took place led by Michael to play the music on their songs. The Monkees, after threating to quit, won control of their records. Don Kirshner was fired and the Monkees became a real band, performing the music as they wanted too. Like all bands, things fell apart but the band had a great run from 1965-71 with Peter leaving in 1969 and Michael in 1970.
Micky opened the show with one of my favorite Monkees’ song “Mary, Mary” written by fellow Monkee Michael Nesmith. He continued to play hit after hit thanking the sold out crowd and taking bows between songs. He told us some very interesting stories about the Monkees, some I knew but some that were new to me. I didn’t know he sang Johnny B. Goode at the Monkees’ audition that landed him the gig or Michael wanted to perform his new song “Different Drum” with the Monkees but the powers in charge didn’t think it was Monkee material so he gave it to Linda Ronstadt who had a massive hit with it. About 10 songs into his set Micky told us about a little event he went to in 1967 called The Monterey Pop Fest and was blown away by this unknown act he saw. The Monkees invited him to join their tour. He accepted. The unknown act: The Jimi Hendrix Experience. So Micky explained how bizarre it was, ripped into Jimi’s Purple Haze only to be drown out by shouts of “we want the Monkees, we want the Monkees, we want Davy ,we want Davy” until Micky stopped playing the song and said “and that’s how it was.” I can’t imagine Jimi Hendrix opening for the Monkees but he quit after two weeks due to frustration.
Micky played all the hits, “Last Train to Clarksville,” “She,” “I’m not your Stepping Stone,” “Daydream Believer,” “Goin Down,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and “A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You.” He also played some obscure songs like “D.W. Washburn.” Micky’s sister Coco was part of the band and she sang two solo numbers; “White Rabbit” and “Different Drum,” and one duet. It must run in the family, because she is a great singer too. Finishing on a high note, Micky chose “Gimme Some Lovin” by the Spencer Davis Group and “Daydream Believer” as his encore. Micky put on a great show with a lot of energy and emotion. He utilized two screens on each side of the stage projecting nonstop Monkees pictures, newspaper headlines and scenes from their TV show as he performed.
Micky Dolenz is a true entertainer with so much talent. True I may be a little bias. He had no low spots in his show, just one hit after another. As he was singing I just kept thinking about the old days when I was a kid. When things were so much better and simpler. Micky let me relive some of that Wednesday night. Thank you for all the great memories forever Monkee Micky and City Winery.
Reviewed by Terry Giardina