In March 1997, all four Monkees embarked on a tour of the United Kingdom to promote their 1996 album, Justus. The quartet appeared on numerous UK television talk shows to hype the concerts. The tour played to full venues at almost every stop in England, Scotland, and Ireland, including two sold-out appearances at Wembley Arena. The group was enthusiastically greeted by fans, but the British press was another story.
Though they widely documented the tour, most coverage was negative and unflattering. Nonetheless, fans were thrilled with the show and the chance to see all four Monkees performing an entire concert tour together for the first time since 1968. Michael Nesmith, on the other hand, decided to cease live concert appearances with The Monkees after the UK tour. "The UK shows were fun enough," Nesmith told Record Collector in August 1997. "It's always fun to play at an arena level. And Monkees fans being what they are, they had a good time. So there wasn't anything unpleasant about that side of it. But on a global level, it's understood that the UK press is the worst in the world. So I knew I was walking into the absolutely worst possible place I could go. Even so, I had forgotten how mean-spirited the press could be. I knew that it was substandard and unintelligent and tied to what advertisers want, but I didn't realize it was mean-spirited. And that was devastating, to see that operating as the voice of the public. It put me right off. I walked right into that and thought, 'My God, this is a terrible thing to be involved in.'"
Despite mostly negative reviews in the UK, the reception by the fans, management, and some of the band members remained upbeat. "We had a great time and got a fabulous reaction," Micky told Monkee Business Fanzine after the tour was completed. "I enjoyed seeing the fans," Michael enthused to Melody Maker. "We came because of a mandate from the fans and that was satisfying." Ward Sylvester, The Monkees' manager, said the UK tour was "just great, well-attended, lots of sellouts and near sellouts." Asked about some of the less than stellar assessments, Sylvester shrugged it off, saying "The British press tends to be unpleasant. They do a lot of posturing to sell newspapers." Q, a popular British music magazine, spoke to The Monkees during the tour. When the interviewer said to the group that "journalists hope you'll say you hate each other and you're just doing it for the money," Nesmith responded with "We're all rich and we all like each other."
Here's a particularly bruising review of one of the Wembley Arena concerts (despite ending on somewhat of a positive note) from the British publication Melody Maker. Thanks to Rosemary Reedman for submitting this article to The Monkees Live Almanac.
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