First the good news: Michael Nesmith is touring with the Monkees for the first time in the United States since 1969.
Now, the bad news: Davy Jones died in February, after this tour was conceived.
Other good news: the remaining trio did not try to replace Davy with some guy from a Monkees tribute band.
The bad news: It just wasn’t really the same Thursday night at the State Theatre without Davy.
Between the video clips, the music and seeing three aging Monkees in person, there was plenty of nostalgia. But there wasn’t much chemistry, spirit or passion. Except for Micky Dolenz.
He not only hasn’t stopped touring (he released a solo album this year and played at the State Fair) but his voice is still effective and he tries hard to entertain.
By contrast, neither Peter Tork nor Nesmith manifested much vocal power (the sound engineer should boost their vocal volume). Moreover, Nesmith, who looks a bit like Don Shelby with loafers as sparkly as Michael Jackson’s beaded glove, has retained his shy, eyes gazing down demeanor from the 1960s.
During the 110-minute sold-out show, the Prefab Three played the hits, most of the tunes from side one of the 1967“Headquarters” album, plenty of deep album tracks and selections from the trippy, take-us-seriously 1968 movie “Head.”
They even mixed up singing assignments, with someone other than the one who sang on the original recording taking lead vocals. But they wouldn’t dare try to replace Davy Jones on “Daydream Believer” so they invited a couple of fans onstage to take the lead vocal chores. Davy did do a couple of numbers, including “I Wanna Be Free,” via video tape with the band playing live.
Since each of the three Monkees actually plays an instrument on each song, having seven additional musicians (including Dolenz’s sister and Nesmith’s son, who looks like Judas Priest’s Rob Halford) seemed a bit much. Sometimes the sound – four guitarists?! – seemed unnecessarily thick.
Personally, I preferred the Monkees’ rain-interrupted show in 2011 at the Minnesota Zoo – with Davy, sans Michael. But to Monkee-maniacs, Thursday was a special moment seeing Nesmith onstage once again -- with his 12-string guitar but not his stocking cap.
Michael Nesmith photo/ Los Angeles Times