Hearne: The Curious Case of The Monkees’ 2014 Tour

IMG_4112Oldies acts can be disappointing, seriously disappointing…

Trust me on this, I’ve seen my share. The worst maybe was a Guess Who show at the Uptown years ago with only the lowly bass player remaining from the original cast. For the record, it wasn’t my show – nor did I buy a ticket – I was consulting on promotions for a former Uptown Theater owner. Otherwise, no way would I have been there.

I digress.

To call the TV show born band The Monkees a super group would be a gross exaggeration. That said, a combination of  widespread exposure on a popular television sitcom (that ran for two years starting in 1967) and a string of – let’s call it, seven hit singles – elevated the fatuous foursome to dizzying heights that many would categorize as iconic.

Especially Baby Boomers transitioning through their teens and 20s in the late 1960s as well as subsequent watchers of the show’s ubiquitous reruns.

All of which made for a packed house – and a seated show – last week at the Uptown. 

Before I pass along my observations, let me make it clear, this isn’t a review.

Come to think of it, neither was the column I read in the newspaper though it was labeled as such. Otherwise, readers might have learned how deceased Monkees tambourine player / vocalist Davy Jones was missed most. Like on the band’s final No. 1 hit song, Daydream Believer. Or they might have gotten a far more specific critique of the 70-ish group’s singing abilities, musicianship and stage presence.

IMG_4120Because frankly, it the show was more than a little rough around the edges, although it was somewhat forgivingly blurred by the fog of the live concert sound.

Here’s what I don’t get: 

As I listened to the Monkees 11 song Greatest Hits album on my way back from this year’s Wakarusa Festival in Arkansas, it struck me; filler videos aside, the group was touring with a two hour stage show. Yet when you add up the playing times on the band’s hits, it barely hits 30 minutes with a little over 11 minutes of the album composed of what many might describe as borderline or “filler.”

Now think about it.

The Monkees stretched out less than 20 minutes playing only seven of the band’s hits in a 120 minute concert.    

Glimpsing at the band’s set list eight songs in (which included just three hits if you count a Paul Revere and the Raiders cover)), I calculated that with 18 mostly obscure non hits coming up, I had time to walk to Westport for a quick bite before returning for the final four songs (that included just two hits, Daydream Believer and Pleasant Valley Sunday).


Which raises the question of why the band didn’t perform its Monkee’s Theme song and the Neil Diamond penned, Davy Jones sung No. 1 hit, A Little Bit Me, A little Bit You.

Did I mention this wasn’t a review?

Allow me to tell you though that the mostly oldster crowd – with a sprinkling of kids and grand kids – lapped it up. And even though there were so many somewhat unfamiliar and/or unimportant songs, all in it was a very comfortable, easy-on-the-ears show. Unlike the songs many aging rock acts force their fans to choke down when all they really want to hear are the older hits.

UnknownA lifetime ago I promoted an oldies show featuring the Turtles, Grass Roots, Buckinghams and Gary Lewis and the Playboys. It was kind of a training wheels experience before I went on to promote and produce mostly alternative rock acts for seven years with bands like They Might Be Giants, The Pixies, Soul Asylum, Goo Goo Dolls and the like.

And here’s what made the Happy Together Tour work back then.

For starters the artists were barely 40 years old instead of 70 or dead.

Equally importantly, the bands played very short sets concentrating on their hits (which outside of the Turtles were fairly few) allowing the show unfolded at a rapid pace with no set changes.

Check out the songs on the Happy Together tour album:

1. Happy Together – Turtles

2. She’d Rather Be With Me – Turtles

3. Elenore – Turtles

4. You Showed Me – Turtles

5. It Ain’t Me Babe – Turtles

6. This Diamond King – Gary Lewis & The Playboys

7. Everybody Loves A Clown – Gary Lewis & The Playboys

8. Count Me In – Gary Lewis & The Playboys

Side 2:

1. Midnight Confessions – Grass Roots

2. Let’s Live For Today – Grass Roots

3. Sooner Or Later – Grass Roots

4. Two Divided By Love – Grass Roots

5. Kind Of A Drag – Buckinghams

6. Don’t You Care – Buckinghams

7. Susan – Buckinghams

8. Hey Baby They’re Playing Our Song – Buckinghams

Get the picture?

Together the four bands had like 16 bonafide hits – more than double that of the Monkees – and the show sped by at lightning speed with the odd cover thrown in for good measure.

Was a good time had by pretty much all at last week’s Monkees concert? Clearly.

celebblue14However characterizing the Monkees musical past as “solid gold” – as the headline in the Star review did – is a pretty hefty exaggeration.

Look, the Monkees will always be the Monkees – four cute kids that millions of Americans grew up watching and listening to – or will they? Davy Jones (who died in 2012) was definitely missed.

As were Jones’ bandmate’s 22 year-old countenances – frozen in time for all time in Rerun-ville – but cruelly obliterated by the 2014 tour.

Didn’t Frank Sinatra kinda always look old?

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16 Responses to Hearne: The Curious Case of The Monkees’ 2014 Tour

  1. chuck says:

    At this age, no one actually needs the “Six O’Clock Alarm” to actually ring,

    or the Monkees to actually sing.

    Looking forever old was “Bing”.

    If you save this column, you will be able to use in in 10 years for Sting.

    • admin says:

      Actually, I’ve been mostly bored by Sting since he
      Left the Police.

      Went to see him early in his solo career at Starlight and outside of him being a chick magnet, I lost interest.

      Was at Police show at Sprint like five years ago near George Brett and it was essentially an oldies show then.

  2. Bob says:

    How was Wakarusa, Hearne?

  3. CG says:


  4. John Altevogt says:

    Yes, but none of them played well enough even then to play the show. They always had a back up band sort of out of sight playing along so they didn’t suck. The Dave Clark Five was another farce. For their tour they shut off all the lights and stood on stage and waved while tapes played through speakers. That way, when you took a picture the flash would go off and you had a picture of them waving just at you.

    You have to be hard up for music to waste money on this crap, then, or now.

    • admin says:

      Actually John, Peter Tork was a musical mutha

      This from Wikipedia:

      “He began studying piano at the age of nine, showing an aptitude for music by learning to play several different instruments, including the banjo and acoustic and bass guitars. .. He attended Carleton College before he moved to New York City, where he became part of the folk music scene in Greenwich Village during the first half of the 1960s. While there, he befriended other up-and-coming musicians such as Stephen Stills.”

      Stills was the one who helped him get the Monkees gig, FYI

  5. Hot Carl says:

    I would have gone to this show, even without Davy, if the ticket prices weren’t astronomical. Cheap seats ran about $65-$80 and they went up from there. I guess some folks were willing to pay it but no thanks.

    • the dude says:

      So you are the one guy that actually would have paid for tickets?
      You seem easily amused to me.

    • admin says:

      You’re correct, it was not a cheap ticket, Hot Carl.

      Think I saw a sign where front row or something were like $125 per

      No opener, just two hours of nonstop million year-old Monkees

      It did have bit of a curiosity fact, dude. I certainly wasn’t longing to go, but I wondered what it would be like. And the people who did ante up seemed to be enjoying themselves.

      • the dude says:

        Sounds like the type of curiosity that likes to see train wrecks.

        • Hot Carl says:

          Dude, we get it, it’s not your cup of tea. But those Monkees singles were, for the most part, written by top-notch songwriters and played by the notorious Wrecking Crew. They hold up as well as any pop songs from the era and I understand why people still want to hear them. I don’t begrudge anybody their musical tastes. Obviously, yours don’t include The Monkees.

          • the dude says:

            No, you misunderstand. They have fine pop songs that I do appreciate but there is no way in hell I would pay money to see it. Free concert at the city bandshell, sure, why the hell not?

  6. Orphan of the Road says:

    Just gets me to thinking about The Rolling Stones opening for Herman’s Hermits and the headliner, Freddy & The Dreamers on the Steel Pier in Atlantic City.

    Have to give Boyce & Hart credit for sticking it to the man. Wouldn’t let them write an anti-war song for The Monkees, so they sent them Last Train to Clarksville.

    Clarksville was where soldiers shipped off to Nam.

    And we thought this was sooooo funny in the day, why our heroes would never sell out Rock N Roll.


  7. CG says:

    So Hearne how did they sound overall, was it the MONKEYS OR NO…

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