With a more robust band, fresh arrangements, Micky being Micky and a rejuvenated Nez, "The Mike and Micky Show" turned out to be the ultimate Monkees concert many have been waiting on for decades.
The set list was perfect! Early/middle/late periods of the Monkees era were covered (and Good Times!, too). All of the Nez songs you wanted to hear were played. Songs that have been aired frequently during recent tours were dropped, while other warhorses were reinvented in ways that made them feel like new releases. The deep cuts were dynamic, rewarding, and ultimately delivered on pre-tour expectations.
The band was tight. The addition of Paul Kramer's fiddle and Pete Finney's slide guitar breathed new life into the arrangements. Circe Link and Christian Nesmith added relative youth and energy. The re-worked arrangements of many of the songs on the set list added so much soul to nearly every song. Both Wayne Avers and Christian deserve accolades for their work in this department.
The Monkees themselves were at the peak of their craft, which is quite an accomplishment considering their age. Micky and Mike's harmonies were beautiful, as always. Nez looked engaged and happy. His voice sounded as rich today as it did in 1968. That being said, it can never be forgotten that Micky is the consummate entertainer and a wonderful singer. There was so much energy in their performance, and if you closed your eyes, the whole show felt like 1968. Furthermore, the camaraderie between the band appeared authentic. It looked like everyone was having fun and enjoying themselves. Christian and Mike; Mike and Micky; each had special moments.
A paragraph could be written about every song that was performed at the concert in Chicago. I will highlight just a few:
The performances of "Listen to the Band," "You Told Me," "Sweet Young Thing," and "Sunny Girlfriend" were infinitely superior at these shows. The arrangements, background vocals, and Mike’s ability to hit higher notes made it truly special.
I was so happy to see the return of "As We Go Along." This is Micky at his finest and one of the best songs in The Monkees' catalog.
It was also gratifying to witness "Accidental Hipster" being played. A fully contemporary sounding song, and a great match for Micky and Mike.
The Monkees as a whole have cemented their place as one of the greatest bands of all time. What other group with multiple #1 hits in the 1960s ever produced more pleasing, contemporary music 50 years later and achieved this type of longevity?
We can now all retire as happy and satisfied Monkees fans.
Live in 2021