A pair of sparkly shoes. Images of a rainbow room. Three companions leading me on a journey full of magic and awe. It wasn’t Oz. It was even better.
I am currently coming off of a high from this weekend, for I witnessed the greatest concert of my life TWICE. Once in Chicago. Once in Cleveland. By now, you should know me well enough to know I am talking about The Monkees. It happened. Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, and…wait for it…Mike “Papa Nez” Nesmith. On stage. Together. Pinch me.
Before the concerts, I had already decided that I was not going to blog a review since I had already done so for last year’s 45th Anniversary Tour, before the passing of Davy Jones. I knew this was going to be a different kind of concert altogether, but I also realized that the vast majority of my blog followers probably don’t care to read about my breakdown of the set list, albeit the greatest set list to ever be performed on a stage…in my humble opinion. So I was just going to keep my thoughts to myself…and anyone else who would be kind enough to allow me to share them (in other words, my husband, my mom, my sister, and a couple good friends). And I intend to keep that promise. I am not going to blog a review. But I am going to blog an experience. (If you DO want to read a review, the Chicago Tribune wrote one of my favorites.)
To say this concert was something I was looking forward to would be a gross and negligent understatement. It is hard to put to words why it is so significant because there are a myriad of reasons of varying influence. Most obviously this concert served the purpose of feeding the fangirl inside of me, who can get a little ravenous and cranky if her Monkee craving isn’t satiated every now and again…and this concert was like her Thanksgiving feast. I was also tired of being a “Nez virgin.” Before this past weekend, I had never seen Nesmith perform live, had never been in the same room as him, had never shared the same air. Thankfully, he was everything I expected and more. (And from the vantage point of my slightly disappointing seats, I was also able to pretend for a moment what it would be like if my dad was a rock star. From afar, Papa Nez really did resemble my dad, just as I had always hoped.) Finally, I felt this concert held a very weighty symbolism. After Jones’ passing in February, many fans thought that was it. But the reunion of Dolenz, Tork, and Nesmith showed that The Monkees did not die; they would not; they could not. The Monkees are more than the sum of their parts.
More personally, the concert connected me to an energy that was abundant in the ten-year-old who used to crush on posters in her bedroom and get a little rush if “Steppin’ Stone” came on the oldies radio station. When it was all new and exciting. In a lot of ways, longtime fandom is like a relationship. There are all the butterflies and googly eyes and let’s-be-together-every-second-of-the-day feelings at the beginning. Then after a while, things get comfortable. They’re your rock, your foundation, but you get distracted with other things, other songs, other bands, other hobbies. You still listen to them faithfully, but after years of being together, hearing them through a speaker has lost some of its luster and romance. They are still beautiful, but sometimes you forget to notice. And then a concert like the one this past weekend happens, and you see them and hear them with the eyes and ears of young puppy love once again. Every note elicits a rush, every harmony makes you giddy. You remember why they are your one and only, and you fall in love all over again.
I had a particularly poignant moment during the Chicago concert. As the legendary trio performed a powerfully hypnotic version of “Sweet Young Thing,” I took in the enormity of a stage holding the three icons I had admired for so many years: a masterful Peter making it seem as though playing chords is as effortless as breathing; a magnetic Micky pounding on the Cajon drum, sending reverberations through the souls of the audience; and a captivating Mike crooning with a voice as vibrant as his sparkly Jimmy Choos. At that moment, I heard an internal whisper…“remember this.”
I hear that whisper every now and again. Like when I realize that one day my kids will stop climbing into my bed in the middle of the night and I drift back to sleep nuzzling their little heads, breathing in the scent of watermelon shampoo. Or like my recent bed and breakfast excursion with my husband, when we had one of those “fall in love again” moments and held hands walking down Main Street in St. Charles. And then again at The Monkees concert, when I realized I was witnessing a bit of magic. A good life is built on “remember this” moments. I am lucky to have a very good life.
And I am lucky that three men were willing to become The Monkees one more time to give me another moment to remember with a smile. It was everything, it was more, it was not enough, all wrapped into one. In a word, it was perfect.
I will leave you with what was, for me, two of the biggest “blow my mind” moments from the show. The first is perhaps the song I was most looking forward to seeing performed live, Nesmith’s “Circle Sky.” It definitely brought on fist pumping and air drumming on my part. The second is Dolenz not singing “Porpoise Song,” but recreating it, breathing life into it, and sending it out to live within the senses of all who experienced it. To remember.
“Weren’t they good? They made me happy…Now that we have listened to the band.”
(Disclaimer: The photos are mine, but feel free to share them. While I wish I had taken the “Circle Sky” video, because it would have meant I had kick ass seats, I did not. It was posted on YouTube by joeypgh1. “Porpoise Song,” however, is my video, taken in Cleveland by one of my buddies on this adventure, Shannon. She was kind enough to do it for me so that I could take it all in and experience it live. Thanks, Shannon! It turned out great!)