Fifty years of memories, plus melodic new tunes from The Monkees

The Monkees Photos by Andy Argyrakis

Fifty years have passed since The Monkees first hit the television airwaves and ruled the radio, but the group comprised of the late Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and the rarely touring Michael Nesmith is still a viable force in various facets of popular culture. Between endless reruns, DVD sets of the show and memorabilia galore, coupled with the surviving members’ recent return to the recording studio, the veteran pop/rockers have transcended generations, perhaps most tangibly apparent when Dolenz, Tork and their current backing cast were added to the lengthy legends list at The Venue at Horseshoe Casino.

As the players made their final bow to a roaring ovation, it was obvious just how much the historical night meant to lifelong supporters, but rather than taking it easy, Dolenz and Tork in particular are committed to making more memories as they join the elite handful to cross the half century mark.

Not only was the audience as wide as the five decades The Monkees’ career has encompassed, but the band’s “Good Times!” album of all new material was produced by Fountains Of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger and features songwriting contributions from Neil Diamond and Paul Weller, alongside members of Oasis, Weezer and Death Cab For Cutie. Given the evening’s anniversary, the current collection was just a fraction of the two act show, which ever so appropriately kicked off with “(Theme From) The Monkees” and addressed pretty much every era between the two.

The MonkeesNo, the guys weren’t pitch-perfect, but they were fairly sturdy and always fun for two solid hours that included the classic “Last Train To Clarksville,” plus the current melodic poppers “She Makes Me Laugh” and “I Was There (And I’m Told I Had a Good Time).” The Monkees also dug pretty deep, debuting “Steam Engine” and “Let’s Dance On” for the first time ever on a tour, along with some spirited remakes of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” (Dolenz’s audition for the group) and Jackie Wilson’s banjo-flanked “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher.”

The second half wound up with a psychedelic segment featuring the more experimental (and sometimes downright strange) likes of “Circle Sky,” “Porpoise Song” and “Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again?,” accompanied by some of The Monkees’ most colorful clips broadcast on the big screen above the band. However, old footage of Jones singing “Daydream Believer” was by far the most poignant and really revved up the “way back machine,” which further unfurled a potent version of “Pleasant Valley Sunday.”

For the encore, The Monkees recalled their mid-1980s MTV rebirth via “That Was Then, This Is Now,” though even that heavy hitter paled in comparison to the mass sing-a-long/dance circle provoked by “I’m A Believer.” As the players made their final bow to a roaring ovation, it was obvious just how much the historical night meant to lifelong supporters, but rather than taking it easy, Dolenz and Tork in particular are committed to making more memories as they join the elite handful to cross the half century mark.


Micky Dolenz of The Monkees returns to Chicagoland on Saturday, July 9 at Music By The Lake on the campus of George Williams College of Aurora University in Williams Bay/Lake Geneva. For additional details, visit MusicByTheLake.com.

Click here for more photos of the Monkees from The Venue At Horseshoe Casino.

For additional information on The Monkees, visit Monkees.com.

Upcoming concert highlights at The Venue At Horseshoe Casino include the 2016 Chicago Funk Fest starring George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic with Con Funk Shun, The Bar-Kays, Al Hudson & One Way and Lakeside (June 17); Boney James and Roy Ayers (June 24); Penn & Teller (July 8); Jill Scott (Aug. 5); Jeff Dunham (Aug. 6); George Benson (Sep. 3) and The Australian Pink Floyd Show (Sep. 9). For additional details, visit TheVenueChicago.com and Ticketmaster.com

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