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Live Review and Photo Gallery: The Monkees Present: The Mike & Micky Show at Copernicus Center

| June 18, 2018

The Monkees Present: The Mike & Micky Show

Copernicus Center, Chicago, IL

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Several generations of Monkees fans arrived at the Copernicus Center on Thursday knowing they’d see only half of the beloved band. What they might not have expected was that The Mike & Micky Show would be twice the concert it had to be to satisfy most ticketholders. Regular touring presence Micky Dolenz and his less-traveled partner Mike Nesmith traded songs and blended their voices for a generous set spanning two hours and 33 songs, including tracks like the Dolenz-led “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” and Nesmith’s blissful blast through “The Door into Summer.”

Dolenz’ presence was certainly sufficient to draw elated cheers, but Nesmith’s participation was the evening’s rare treat. Although the Monkees have maintained household name status for a staggering 52 years, it’s estimated that Nesmith has only participated in a tenth of the group’s public activity since the Monkees’ TV show folded in 1968. “What a gas!” declared a beaming Nesmith after the jangling “Last Train to Clarksville.” The singer and guitarist did not seem like someone who had to have his arm twisted to take his songs on the road.

Since the Monkees’ most popular hits were sung by Dolenz and the late Davy Jones, the songs Nesmith led veered into deep cuts that thrilled diehard fans. Headquarters tracks including “You Told Me” and “Sunny Girlfriend” were warmly received, but Nesmith’s own “Listen to the Band” from 1969’s The Monkees Present brought the house down during the encore. The show was also sprinkled with winning country-rock cuts like “Nine Times Blue” from Nesmith’s work with his First National Band.

Dolenz’ selections dug deeply as well, and included the benefit of Dolenz’ genial storytelling. “About 50 years ago, we had the pleasure of making a movie,” he said, referring to the surreal 1968 film Head. “Did anyone here see it?” After the answering roar, Dolenz quipped, “Can anyone tell me what it’s about?” Dolenz then praised serial Monkees songwriter Carole King before performing the psychedelic and carnivalesque “Porpoise Song.” Dolenz’ lilting, boyish voice returned for “As We Go Along,” another King highlight from the Head soundtrack.

Dolenz and Nesmith were abetted by an excellent nine-piece band that was as adept at the shimmering ‘60s-era psych-pop of “Pleasant Valley Sunday” as they were at the country two-beat rhythm of “Circle Sky.” Guitarists included Nesmith’s son Christian, who stood shoulder to shoulder with his dad for the latter song’s concluding riff. Nesmith claimed that all he’d ever required of Christian to earn paternal pride was to learn the bottleneck guitar, as his son lashed into the snarling slide licks of the First National Band’s “Grand Ennui.”

Dolenz’ sister and longtime touring partner Coco sang and played percussion while her brother scatted through the sprightly jazz-pop of “Goin’ Down.” The group’s nimble bassist propelled the singalong encore of Neil Diamond’s “I’m a Believer.” Glistening harpsichord sounds twinkled through “The Girl I Knew Somewhere.” A cartwheeling violin solo elevated “Take a Giant Step,” and pedal steel sharpened the twang of songs like “What Am I Doin’ Hangin’ ‘Round?”

Dolenz and Nesmith sang in sweet unison during the gentle “Me and Magdalena” from 2016’s Good Times! album, a song written by Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard. The band also performed the album’s “Birth of an Accidental Hipster,” written by the Jam’s Paul Weller and Oasis’ Noel Gallagher. Dolenz performed “Randy Scouse Git” on the acoustic guitar, returning the song from its Monkee-fied timpani version to its original arrangement.

Dolenz sang “Daydream Believer” in tribute to Jones, as Nesmith marveled at the sea of twinkling cell phone lights and the roomful of voices unified in song. The love and goodwill between the stage and audience seemed entirely mutual. While it’s uncertain whether Nesmith and Dolenz will tour again with Peter Tork as the Monkees, The Mike & Micky Show honored the band’s legacy and justified the love of its enduring audience.

Review and photos by Jeff Elbel

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Category: Live Reviews

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  1. Penni says:

    I was there and you’ve captured the evening perfectly. We had a blast!