Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Monkees at The Orpheum Theatre, 6-2-18 Concert Review

The Monkees performing "I'll Spend My Life With You"
The Monkees were my first favorite band. I was four years old when I fell in love with this group, and my appreciation for them has only grown in the intervening decades. I saw them in concert in 1986, and several times since then, and I’ve always had an excellent time. But last night’s show at the Orpheum might have been the best show I’ve seen them do (perhaps even better than the show in Lowell back in 2011). It was certainly the best concert I’ve attended this year. There were a lot of surprises, a lot of songs I’d never seen them do before, including one of my all-time favorites. And there was a great sense of fun about the whole thing. The tour is billed as “The Monkees Present: The Mike & Micky Show,” as Peter Tork is not part of it.

I had never been to the Orpheum before, and was pleased to discover it is a really nice venue, with a relaxed vibe and a friendly staff. I had purchased a ticket for a seat in the last row so that I could dance without bothering anyone. So glad I did. I danced the whole show, and had plenty of room. My seat was actually in the handicapped area. Good folks near me too, which helped make the experience even better. It’s great being with other knowledgeable fans. Before the show, the venue actually had Monkees music playing, including “All The King’s Horses,” “Salesman” and even “Me & Magdalena.” I was already really excited about the show because a few months ago Mike and Micky had indicated that they were going to play songs they didn’t usually perform.

At 8:04 p.m., the lights dimmed, and at 8:05 p.m., a screen came down at the back of the stage, which simply said “The Monkees Present The Mike & Micky Show.” They didn’t bother playing scenes from the television series, as they had at previous shows. And I certainly didn’t miss the visuals. This time it was all about the music. They kicked off the show with Michael Nesmith’s “Good Clean Fun,” a song from The Monkees Present. “I told you I’d come back and here I am!” Indeed! Micky was on acoustic guitar, and Mike played electric guitar. They followed that with “Last Train To Clarksville,” and man, there was a guy on banjo. After that song, someone shouted out, “I love you.” And Mike responded, “I love you too.” Micky then put down the guitar and picked up some maracas for “Sunny Girlfriend.” That song is always a lot of fun, and this was a good version.

After “Mary, Mary,” Mike joked, “Mary, Mary never answered.” They then played “You Told Me,” with Micky on tambourine, and followed that with “For Pete’s Sake.” Mike mentioned that song was written by Peter Tork, adding: “A big shout out to Peter Tork. Peter!” Peter has said that he wasn’t doing this tour because he’s focusing on other projects. Mike then also gave a shout out to Davy Jones, saying “This is for you, kiddo,” before getting into “The Door Into Summer.” Yes, Mike was pretty talkative at this show, which was great, even doing a running joke about missing a woman’s phone call. That running joke was not anything that was worked out beforehand, and Mike wasn’t sure just where he was going with it, and admitted as much.

Micky played acoustic guitar on “The Girl I Knew Somewhere.” After that, one of the band’s technicians brought out an acoustic guitar for Mike. Rather than just taking it, he made the guy stand there holding it for a bit while he joked that he’d give him eight dollars for it. He then played “You Just May Be The One.” Mike left the stage for “Steam Engine.” This was the first surprise of the night for me, and it was absolutely fantastic. This song is a whole lot of fun. I used to have a compilation cassette titled Monkee Business, and I’d to listen to this song over and over. Micky then jumped ahead in the set list, starting to introduce a song from Good Times! before being corrected. Instead, they played “Some Of Shelly’s Blues,” another delightful surprise. Mike sang the last line as “You settle down and stay with me,” as he has done when performing the song solo. After that, Mike mentioned Good Times!, and they played “Birth Of An Accidental Hipster.” I love that album, and “Birth Of An Accidental Hipster” was definitely cool, but it was the next song that really excited me. “Birth Of An Accidental Hipster” led directly into “St. Matthew,” which completely thrilled me. What a fantastic surprise. If memory serves me (and it often doesn’t), I first heard this song on a compilation titled Missing Links Volume Two. It’s an excellent song, and they did a great job on it last night.

Mike then left the stage while Micky sang “Porpoise Song.” The lights along the walls and the lights above me were going all weird, a nice touch that I didn’t expect. That was followed by another song from Head, “Circle Sky,” which completely kicked ass. Seriously, this tune was powerful last night, and it was followed by my favorite Monkees song, “As We Go Along,” also from Head. It was a beautiful rendition, featuring violin, and was followed by another gorgeous song to conclude the first set, “Me & Magdalena.” Seriously, this version was so beautiful that I started to cry. What a great finish to the first set. The first set ended at 9:06 p.m.

Micky said they’d be back in five minutes. The usher had told me it was going to be a twenty-minute break. Neither was correct. It was fourteen minutes. The first part of the second set was a nice, acoustic segment. And in fact, for the first song only two musicians joined Mike and Micky. That song was the always-appreciated “Papa Gene’s Blues.” Then bass and drums were added for an interesting, cool rendition of “Randy Scouse Git.” And that was followed by another wonderful surprise, “Nine Times Blue,” with some nice work on pedal steel. This is a song that was included on Missing Links. There was more nice work on pedal steel on “I’ll Spend My Life With You.” The backing vocalists returned for this one, and there was also mandolin on this sweet rendition. And by “Different Drum,” the whole band was back on stage, including keys. After that, Mike announced, “That’s the end of the acoustic set.”

Micky talked about the band’s first single, “Last Train To Clarksville.” The flip side was “Take A Giant Step,” except apparently in Hawaii. “In Hawaii, this was the song that was released as the single, because there are no trains in Hawaii,” Micky said. It looks like the French version of the single also had “Take A Giant Step” as the A side. The version last night featured some nice work on violin. As great as that was, it was the next song that made the night an absolute treasure for me. I am a big fan of The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees, in large part because of “Auntie’s Municipal Court.” It’s a song I never expected to see the band perform in concert. But last night they did it, and I could not have been happier. And they did it with a bit of that extended ending. In a night of highlights, this one had to be tops for me. It almost didn’t even matter what they did afterward.

After that completely magical song, someone in the audience shouted out a request for “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” and a lot of other people laughed in response. It seemed to me not only a stupid request (since the band was almost certainly going to play it), but an absolutely ridiculous thing to shout after being treated to such a rare gem as “Auntie’s Municipal Court.” It felt almost like that person didn’t appreciate the moment. I was glad to hear that the request was met by laughter by a lot of folks in the audience. Anyway, what they did choose to follow “Auntie’s Municipal Court” was a totally rocking rendition of “Sweet Young Thing.” How were other people not dancing? Actually, there were some people dancing near me, and some others down front, to the left of the stage from the audience’s perspective. At one point, a woman near me leaned in to say that the rest of the audience was demonstrating remarkable restraint. Ah, perfect!

“Sweet Young Thing” was followed by “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” and then another surprise, “Grand Ennui,” a song from Nevada Fighter, a  Michael Nesmith & The First National Band album. Micky sat this one out. This was a country rock song, with the emphasis on rock, and included a nice long jam. Then Micky came back for an unusual rendition of “Goin’ Down,” with no horns, but with violin. During this song, Micky introduced the band. Micky then sang lead on “Daydream Believer,” singing “how happy we can be” rather than “how happy I can be.” Toward the end, Micky indicated it was the audience’s turn to sing, and we were accompanied only by drums. That was followed by a wonderful version of “What Am I Doing Hangin’ ‘Round?” and then “Pleasant Valley Sunday.”

Everyone except Mike then left the stage, and Mike began “Listen To The Band” solo, on acoustic guitar, an interesting country rendition. It was very cool. It wasn’t long before the band rejoined him, and the song then exploded. Fantastic! The second set then concluded with “I’m A Believer,” during which the crowd finally got to its feet. There was no encore, but I suppose none was needed. The show ended at 10:26 p.m.

Set List

Set I
  1. Good Clean Fun
  2. Last Train To Clarksville
  3. Sunny Girlfriend
  4. Mary, Mary
  5. You Told Me
  6. For Pete’s Sake
  7. The Door Into Summer
  8. The Girl I Knew Somewhere
  9. You Just May Be The One
  10. Steam Engine
  11. Some Of Shelly’s Blues
  12. Birth Of An Accidental Hipster >
  13. St. Matthew
  14. Porpoise Song
  15. Circle Sky
  16. As We Go Along
  17. Me & Magdalena 
Set II
  1. Papa Gene’s Blues
  2. Randy Scouse Git
  3. Nine Times Blue
  4. I’ll Spend My Life With You
  5. Different Drum
  6. Take A Giant Step
  7. Auntie’s Municipal Court
  8. Sweet Young Thing
  9. (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone
  10. Grand Ennui
  11. Goin’ Down
  12. Daydream Believer
  13. What Am I Doing Hangin’ ‘Round?
  14. Pleasant Valley Sunday
  15. Listen To The Band
  16. I’m A Believer
Here are a few photos from the show:

Folks gathering before the doors were opened
"Sunny Girlfriend"
"As We Go Along"
"Papa Gene's Blues"
"I'll Spend My Life With You"
"Pleasant Valley Sunday"
The Orpheum Theatre is located at 842 S. Broadway in Los Angeles, California.


  1. Nice show, thx for the wrap up. This was only the 2nd show of the tour and you can be sure it'll continue to get tighter.

    1. Thank you. I actually like things to be a bit loose, like they were last night. I thought it was a fantastic show.

  2. Thanks for your review! It's a great set list but if I could squeeze in ONE more song, it would have been nice to add "Sometime in the Morning". Micky rarely sang ballads and he has a beautiful voice for them...but I can't speak to how often, if ever, he got to sing it in concert over the years. Thoughts?

    1. I love "Sometime In The Morning." Micky sang that one at the show I saw at Pantages Theater in 2016. He also sang it at that great Lowell show in 2011. And I saw him perform it at a solo show back in 2010. A wonderful song.

    2. Micky loves "Sometime in the Morning" too, & he's re-recorded it a couple of times solo--twice(!) on 'King For A Day' & once on 'Remember'.

  3. I saw Christian Nesmith but who else was in the back up band?

    1. In addition to Christian Nesmith on guitar, the band included Richard Dart on drums, Wayne Avers on guitar, Paul Kramer on fiddle and banjo, and Coco Dolenz on backing vocals. (I think I'm missing three other people.)

    2. The other backing vocalist was Circe Link, who is herself a solo artist, as well as Christian's significant other.

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  5. Hey!! I believe we chatted for a moment and you super politely asked if it was going to bother us if you stood up and danced as you'd gotten a ticket in the last row for just that reason. Glad you enjoyed the lighting effect during Pourpoise Song!!

    The other musicians are Circe Link on backup vocals, John Billings on bass, Alex Jules on keys, and Pete Finney who makes the pedal steel ring like I've never quite heard it! Cheers.

    1. The back row was the way to go, for sure. And the venue was fairly intimate, so you could see pretty well from there. Thanks for the information on the rest of the band! I loved that work on pedal steel.

  6. Talk about rarities!
    You first heard "St. Matthew" on the Missing Links 2 compilation because that's the first time it was ever released. :)
    If not for Nez's solo career, "Some of Shelly's Blues" would've faced the same fate as "St. Matthew".
    Similarly, "Steam Engine" was dubbed over the older songs from some 1970 reruns of the Monkees sitcom, but never saw official release until an Australian compilation in 1979.

    1. Yeah, when I first started seeing the television show, it was 1976. And sometimes they played the original versions, and sometimes they played the later dubs with other songs. I seem to recall at least one song from "Changes" making into an episode. And for every episode, regardless of which season it was from, they included the opening credits sequence from the second season. I didn't see the original opening titles until the show was released on DVD.

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