2013 Monkees Tour commences at the Capitol Theatre in New York
Here they come! The Monkees...Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork, will begin their month long summer tour this evening at the historic Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. The trio will visit 24 different cities in all, including stops in Seattle, Philadelphia, Nashville, Boston, Houston, San Diego, Las Vegas and Washington, D.C. The tour will close on August 18 in Portland, Oregon. After a small round of concerts in late 2012 that drew critical praise, was a hit at the box office and consoled fans still reeling from the loss of Davy Jones, The Monkees will return to the stage largely due to popular demand after their limited engagement last fall. "The reaction to the last tour was euphoric," Micky told Rolling Stone when the tour was announced on April 29. "It was pretty apparent there was a demand for another one." And the return to the fold of Michael Nesmith, largely absent from Monkees tours since the group's revival in 1986, has certainly created a buzz. Fans at the 2012 shows greeted Nez with an abundance of warmth and appreciation. "That went a long way towards convincing him that people do want to see him again and hear his songs," said Micky. "It's almost like, 'How can you not do it?'"
After The Monkees closed their 2012 tour in early December with a sold out show at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, members of the group kept busy in the intervening months leading up to the current round of concerts. Micky continued to promote his most recent solo album, Remember, and played a few scattered solo dates while both Michael and Peter conducted solo tours in the spring. Nez, on the road extensively for the first time since 1992, performed with a small backing band while leading the audience through a set list of songs that spanned his entire career. Peter debuted a fresh show, too, that was produced by Monkees archivist and historian Andrew Sandoval. Dubbed 'In This Generation,' Peter performed alone on stage while accompanying himself on guitar, banjo and piano, mixed with a multimedia presentation, including vintage films and photos.
By early June, Micky tweeted that he was rehearsing with Michael and Peter, and formal rehearsals seemed to begin earlier this month as The Monkees Tour Facebook page posted pictures of the trio working on their own and with members of their backing band. The Monkees themselves have been publicly upbeat in recent weeks about their new concert show. “People who ever followed The Monkees, ever spent any time with The Monkees in any circumstances whatsoever, will find this a great show,” Peter told the Asbury Park Press. By the sounds of it, concertgoers can expect a few changes from last fall's set list and presentation. "We're taking out a few things and putting in a few things, but the set list will be awfully close," Michael told Rolling Stone. We're gonna tweak the video a bit. We found some funnier footage, and we're probably gonna take out one or two pieces of the Head thing so it's not quite so long. We are also planning to add an acoustic section with just acoustic guitar and vocals." Andrew Sandoval, who is producing the show, stressed to the Boston Globe last month that a great amount of effort is placed into the arrangements of the songs from the Monkees catalog for a live performance. “We actually sit and listen to the records together before we go into rehearsals,” Sandoval said. “What do the fans really want? Do they want us to show how great we’ve become or how we can pull off a cool solo in the song that wasn’t there? No, they want us to honor the songs as we did them then.”
The group also took time to compliment one another in the press in the weeks leading up to opening night. “Michael’s songs are a great delight, we do a lot of them now that Michael’s in the band again,” Peter told the Asbury Park Press. “And Micky’s one of the great pop singers of all time. I once told him I thought he was in the top 20. He said ‘20?’ I said ‘Well, OK, 15.’ He said ‘15?’ I said, ‘Well, top 10, but that’s my final offer.’ So we’ve got that to go with. And I think I add a little something to this operation,” Peter noted. “I don’t exactly know what it is, but I’m sure it’s something.” Michael also conveyed his excitement on Facebook. "We are working really hard to put together the best show ever," he wrote. "New video looks great, couple of new songs, the music sounds great...Hope you can get out to see it." Speaking about the concerts last fall, Micky told USA Today this past weekend that "it was so great playing with Mike again."
The sudden passing of Davy Jones in February 2012 caused a tremendous amount of emotion in the Monkees fan community. A constant presence in The Monkees who never missed a concert tour, his absence is, for some, a gap for which there is no compensation. As a result, some fans continue to express reservations about The Monkees without Davy Jones. Various postings on Facebook and other online communities often talk about how it's not the same without him. Peter discussed the delicate nature of the situation in an interview with the Asbury Park Press. “Davy was a fabulous entertainer, and maybe secretly the most musical of the four of us, I really actually think so,” Peter said. “And he was probably the smartest, although that too was very, very subtle, he kept that kind of under wraps. And there’s ways in which we miss him. When he ran the show, he set up the program. He said ‘This song goes here, that song goes there,’ and we would just kick back and let him do it, because he was very good at it. And since he’s gone, Micky and I and Mike all have to craft this together. We set it up on the chalk board and we throw up the songs and we say, ‘Could this go here?’ It’s very arduous without Davy. So there’s a technical side of things where we miss him." But Peter was also adamant about the group moving on while still taking the time to remember Davy. “He brought an awful lot to the table, to the stage, and we miss all of that," Peter said. "Last year, we made it a point to memorialize him a lot. We’ll be doing a little less of that this year. Not much, but somewhat. But we’ll still have a tribute to him and remember him. But it’s different. Now we’re working with Mike. What does this mean? And we have to carry on, so we do our best.”
So what's next for The Monkees after the tour? Will we see more performances or perhaps even a new album? When the 2013 tour was announced, Micky told Rolling Stone that there was no shortage of offers on the table. "I can be frank and tell you we are thinking about taking it everywhere," Micky said. "There's always been interest in Japan, Eurasia and Australia and New Zealand. There's a huge fan base in South America and Brazil in specific, which we've never really tapped into. There's also talk about Europe and the U.K." Micky also expressed interest in a new Monkees album, an idea Michael later said he wasn't necessarily opposed to for the time being. "I'd love to make a new one," Micky told Rolling Stone. "We haven't had any discussions about that beyond, 'Wouldn't it be cool to have a new one?' We're just taking this whole thing one step at a time." When asked about the possibility of new Monkees music, Michael was upbeat saying, "I'm always open. I would not say 'no' without giving it a good look."
Monkees concert tours have always provided something special for the group's loyal fanbase, no matter which generation you became a fan. This tour is likely to be no different. Michael made it clear that it's this notion that is special to him now. "That's why I want to go do it again. It was so much fun," he told Rolling Stone last week. "The people that come, they bring their expectations, and we give them exactly what they want, so that's perfect. I don't know what they're bringing in the door, but I'm happy to see them."