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Micky Dolenz - Des Plaines Theater, Des Plaines, 14/10/2024

  by Lisa Torem

published: 8 / 3 / 2024

Micky Dolenz - Des Plaines Theater, Des Plaines, 14/10/2024

The evening started out with the duo, Mike and Traci, of “Good Clean Fun.” Traci, decked out is sequins, has a pure and expressive voice. Their set included hits recorded by Carole King and Neal Diamond. The litany of hits helped put me in the mood for headliner Micky Dolenz, whom, I anticipated, would also travel down memory lane. When triple threat, vocalist/drummer/actor Dolenz came on stage in his whimsical straw hat, long-sleeved shirt with vest and pressed trousers, he was raring to go. As expected, he opened with a Monkees hit, ‘Steppin’ Stone’. This stage show exceeded expectations. On an overhead screen throughout the night, images of former band members, Peter Tork, Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith and Dolenz appeared in various iterations, performing hilarious antics. ‘Mary Mary,’ written by Nesmith, was originally recorded by Chicago-based Paul Butterfield Band for their mid-1960s album, ‘East-West.’ Early on, Dolenz shared with the audience, “I’m going to be talking a lot about the songwriters tonight, like Boyce and Hart.” ‘That was Then, This is Now,’ penned by Vance Brescia, was part of The Monkees’ 20th Anniversary Reunion Tour, which the tight-knit band played with the utmost vitality. ‘For Pete’s Sake’ was from ‘Headquarters,’ a landmark album which actually featured songs by the four musicians, as opposed to from outside writers, and as you may guess, was penned by Tork. The Americana-flavoured ‘You Just May Be The One,’ another ‘Headquarters’ gem by Nesmith has a more reflective demeanor. But one of the performance standouts occurred when Coco, the dynamic singer and sister of Dolenz, belted out another Nesmith winner, ‘Different Drum’ made famous by Linda Ronstadt. As a change of heart, the band played the Beatles’ ‘Good Morning, Good Morning’, along with other inspirations from the British Invasion band’s successful studio album, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.’ Dolenz was quick to point out that Chuck Berry wrote the rhythmic ‘Johnny B. Goode. The band mirrored the energy of Berry’s initial version. It’s also important to note that this is the very song that Dolenz used to audition for The Monkees television programme, and that he won out from a roster of 400 applicants. ‘The Last Train to Clarksville,’ written by the successful duo, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, was a number one record in 1966, but the lilting melody may have belied the fact that it was an anti-Viet Nam War protest song. At a more cerebral juncture, Dolenz’s musicians shimmered instrumentally during their sensitive version of Buffalo Springfield’s ‘For What It’s Worth,’ although it wasn’t necessarily a song I would have paired with the front man’s rock-oriented voice. And then, they circled back to the Monkees repertoire with ‘Valeri,’ which British entertainer Davy Jones made his very own. ‘No Time’ was spun rock gold. But it came as a surprise when the ensemble launched into the REM staple, ‘Shiny Happy People’ with full-attention to harmonies and keyboard nuances. While I wouldn’t have normally associated Dolenz and his powerful voice with an emo REM arrangement, it came off exceedingly well. Apparently, Dolenz and REM have always enjoyed a sense of mutual admiration, and this arrangement also showed how versatile Dolenz is as a vocal interpreter. To their credit, the band handled the intricate harmonic changes with precision too. Another highlight was Coco’s reimagining of Jefferson Airplane’s signature song, ‘White Rabbit,’ which front woman Grace Slick recorded with a psychedelic spin. It was truly dynamic. In fact, despite the obvious talent of the band, Coco stole the show. ‘Look Out, (Here Comes Tomorrow’), a more poppy change of pace, was written by the prolific Neal Diamond. And again, Dolenz was quick to bring attention to the fact. The spirited Spencer Davis song, ‘Gimme Some Lovin,’ was cleverly merged with ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday,’ an anti-establishment narrative about the tedium of suburban living. Finally, the Neal Diamond cover of ‘I’m A Believer’ was so exuberantly performed that the audience couldn’t stop singing-along. This has been a successful and heartwarming American tour. Micky Dolenz may be the only Monkee left, but he has honoured the group’s history with gusto and grace. Photos by Jim Summaria www.jimsummariaphoto.com

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Micky Dolenz - Des Plaines Theater, Des Plaines, 14/10/2024

Micky Dolenz - Des Plaines Theater, Des Plaines, 14/10/2024

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