It was a bittersweet sight for fans on Thursday night (November 8th) as the Monkees kicked off their latest reunion tour in Escondido, California without the late Davy Jones, who died of a heart attack on February 29th at age 66. Joining Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork was Mike Nesmith, playing his first ever North American shows as full-fledged bandmember since 1969. Nesmith, who apart from an occasional walk on during the group's reunion tour encores, last performed and recorded with the band in 1997, and according to those involved, left the group flat following their sole four-man UK reunion tour.
Davy Jones was represented several times during the show via video screens showing his classic '60s performances of "I Wanna Be Free" from The Monkees TV show and "Daddy's Song" from the band's 1968 feature film, Head. The group explained that after trying to figure out who should sing Davy's signature tune -- and the Monkees' final chart-topper -- "Daydream Believer" they finally decided to perform he song as an instrumental and have the audience sing lead. Despite the tributes, several key Davy Jones songs were missing from the show, including "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You," "She Hangs Out," "Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)," "Cuddly Toy," and "Valleri."
With Nesmith on board, the band thrilled the crowd with a triple shot of his tunes from 1967's Headquarters set -- "You Told Me," "Sunny Girlfriend, and "You Just May Be The One." As the band did during its 2011 tour, the Monkees once again revisited several deep album tracks from their 1968 Head soundtrack album.
Although the inner band conflict between the Monkees are the stuff of legend, Micky Dolenz told us that whenever a group of people has been as closely linked to each other as the Monkees were, it's only natural to bicker: "You become siblings. I mean the relationship becomes like siblings. And if you have siblings y'know, that sometime you love 'em, sometimes you hate 'em, you get in fights, but you'd die for each other, y'know, if it came down to it. But when you spend that much time and you go through that kind of situation. . . I mean, I probably spent more time over the years with some of those guys than I have with some of my siblings."
Noted Beach Boys author, documentarian, and West Coast historian, Jon Stebbins says that the Monkees being passed over for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 22 times is the ultimate act of disrespect by the "hipper-than-thou" powers that be: "Can I just say this; that I think one of the hugest stains on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the written history of rock and roll is the fact that the Monkees are somehow expunged from it as being somehow irrelevant and unimportant. (Laughs) Because, dig up the six best album tracks off of, y'know, the Byrds, and the Buffalo Springfield, and Love and everybody else that is deified, y'know, and it isn't as good as the Monkees."
The Monkees tour dates (subject to change):
November 15 - Minneapolis, MN - The State Theatre
November 16 - Chicago, IL - Chicago Theatre
November 17 - Lakewood, OH - Lakewood Civic Auditorium
November 18 - Buffalo, NY - UB Center For The Arts Mainstage
November 29 - Glenside, PA - Keswick Theatre
November 30 - New Brunswick, NJ - State Theatre
December 1 - Huntington, NY - The Paramount
December 2 - New York, NY - The Beacon Theatre