Friday, June 6, 2014

The Monkees at Casino Ballroom, 5-22-14 Concert Review

The Monkees perform "Sweet Young Thing"

I’ve been a fan of The Monkees since I was four years old. In 1986, when the band’s popularity rose again (due in part to MTV’s celebration of the television series), I saw them perform for the first time. It was a great show, but it was without Michael Nesmith. I saw them again in 1987, and in 1998 and in 2011 – every time without Michael Nesmith. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I was able to see them with Michael Nesmith, at the Casino Ballroom, in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. But sadly, this time of course they were without David Jones.

As I was hoping, they did a lot of Nesmith tunes (though they didn’t play my request, “Love Is Only Sleeping”). The show started at 8:10 p.m., with some filmed interviews on screen (footage I remember as bonus material from the Criterion Collection release of Head). The band then came out and immediately launched into “Last Train To Clarksville,” Micky Dolenz on acoustic guitar, Michael Nesmith on electric guitar, and Peter Tork on electric guitar. They followed that with “Papa Gene’s Blues,” one that has long been a favorite of mine. I’d seen them perform it before, but not with Michael on lead vocals.

They did a very cool, slow version of “Sweet Young Thing,” with Peter playing banjo. They followed that with two of their biggest hits – “I’m A Believer” and “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone.” And then there was more footage on the screens, including some bloopers from the television series.

One of the best sections of the show for me was directly after that footage. Three Nesmith songs in a row: “You Told Me” (with Peter on banjo), “Sunny Girlfriend” and “You Just May Be The One.” The show could have ended right there and I would have been happy.

Another highlight was “Shades Of Gray,” with some excellent backing vocals (one of the vocalists being Micky’s sister). I also loved “For Pete’s Sake," with Michael playing keyboard. The screens behind the band showed the closing credits to the television show (as this song was used during the closing credits in the show’s second season).

It was fantastic getting to see Michael Nesmith do “The Door Into Summer,” from Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., my favorite Monkees album. They followed that with “Words,” a song that never fails to please me (and one from that same album). Michael Nesmith also did “Tapioca Tundra,” from The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees. They only did two songs from that album. (Someday I hope to see them perform “Auntie’s Municipal Court,” another favorite of mine.)

When I saw The Monkees in 2011, the highlight of that show was the section of songs from Head, including my all-time favorite Monkees song, “As We Go Along.” This time around they also did some selections from that album, and again it was excellent. And this time they performed “Circle Sky.” It was such a total joy to see them do that song. They also did “Porpoise Song,” “Can You Dig It,” “As We Go Along” (wonderful, wonderful, wonderful) and “Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again.”

After that, they showed the footage of Davy Jones singing “Daddy’s Song” from Head (though interestingly, it was the album version that played, not the film version of the song, and so didn’t include that slow section). The band then played a sweet rendition of “Daydream Believer” as a tribute to David Jones, with each of the three band members taking turns singing lead. The audience then sang the chorus twice. They wrapped up the set with “What Am Doing Hangin’ ‘Round?” with Peter once again on banjo.

The encores were “Listen To The Band,” with Micky introducing the band, and “Pleasant Valley Sunday.” The show ended at 10:06 p.m. It was a bit shorter than the show I saw in 2011, and didn’t include any big surprises (the 2011 show included “When Love Comes Knockin’ On Your Door,” “All Of Your Toys,” “She Hangs Out” and “Someday Man”), but it was an excellent concert.

Set List

  1. Last Train To Clarksville
  2. Papa Gene’s Blues
  3. Your Auntie Grizelda
  4. The Kind Of Girl I Could Love
  5. She
  6. Sweet Young Thing
  7. I’m A Believer
  8. (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone
  9. You Told Me
  10. Sunny Girlfriend
  11. You Just May Be The One
  12. Mary, Mary
  13. The Girl I Knew Somewhere
  14. Shades Of Gray
  15. Randy Scouse Git
  16. For Pete’s Sake
  17. No Time
  18. The Door Into Summer
  19. Words
  20. Tapioca Tundra
  21. Goin’ Down
  22. Porpoise Song
  23. Can You Dig It
  24. Circle Sky
  25. As We Go Along
  26. Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again
  27. Daydream Believer
  28. What Am Doing Hangin’ ‘Round?


  1. Listen To The Band
  2. Pleasant Valley Sunday

Here are a few photos from the show:

"You Told Me"
"The Girl I Knew Somewhere"
"Shades Of Gray"
"Randy Scouse Git"
"For Pete's Sake"
"For Pete's Sake"
"The Door Into Summer"
"What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?"


  1. To me it's nothing short of simply miraculous that after all these years, all the ups n downs, and all the ins and outs, that this Legendary group is total Star Power in the 21st Century. I grew up watching these guys as a 9 year old? Collected every bubble Gum Card, Album, and religiously followed the TV show from beginning to it's ending season in the 1960's. This is totally amazing and thanks ever so much for sharing your recent pics and expressions.

    1. You are welcome. And thank you so much for the wonderful comment, and for reading my blog. I appreciate it.