Thirty years ago, NBC-TV modeled a band after the Beatles. Who would have guessed the "Fabricated Four" would still be a hit today?
Well, judging from the way the crowd of grandparents, parents and children cheered Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork - collectively known as the Monkees (fourth Monkee Michael Nesmith, who has had a love-hate relationship with the band in the past, was in Nashville mixing the new Monkees album) - MonkeeMania is alive and swinging."I was first introduced to the Monkees when I was in eighth grade," said Alice Bradway, 43. "The first album I bought was a Monkees album.
"They never came anywhere near where I grew up," Bradway, who cited Peter Tork as her favorite Monkee, continued. "This show wasn't the least bit disappointing."
Dixie Gomn and Diana Obray were 10 and 11 when they first saw the Monkees on TV.
"We've been loyal fans since the fifth grade," said Gomn who is now 20. "We found out about the band by accident."
"We were opposed to the '60s retro thing," said Obray who was also accompanied by her younger sister Leanne, 20. "I was flipping channels one day and found the Monkees. This is like a flashback."
Flashback was right. Tork, Jones and Dolenz - who played keyboards, tambourine and guitars - were backed by a grooving band featuring a bassist, guitarist, drummer, keyboardist and saxophonist. The concert kicked off with "Last Train to Clarksville."
"That Was Then, This Is Now," "Valleri" and "Long Title: Do I Have to Do This All Over Again" featured Dolenz, Jones and Tork singing leads, respectively.
Though the three were visibly older, the charm was firmly intact.
"I should give these to my ex-wife, though they might be a little small," said Jones about an extra, extra, extra large pair of underwear that was handed to him by a fan.
And as Dolenz began "weeping" during "She," Jones quipped, "Hey, it's only a song. Don't get so involved."
Other immortalized tunes included "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" and the Dixieland jam of "D.W. Washburn." The band also played "I Wanna Be Free," "Pleasant Valley Sunday" and "Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You."
And when the audience thought the night couldn't get any better, Jones spoke of his guest appearance on the "Brady Bunch" and led everyone in a rendition of that TV show's theme song.
More quirky antics appeared during "Auntie Grizelda" when Tork shook his heinie and climbed on the speakers. Dolenz let loose during a cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" (Hendrix once opened for the Monkees back in 1967), and Jones took time for self-deprecation over his size.
"I was a centerfold in Tigerbeat once," he gleefully bragged. "But they only needed half a page."
After an intermission, the tunes "(I'll) Love You Forever," "What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?" and "She Hangs Out" rang through the arena, as did "Take Me Down," the No. 1 hit "Daydream Believer," "I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone," the anthemic "Listen to the Band" and the Neil Diamond-penned "I'm a Believer."
The band was tight, but the Monkees' vocals were a bit muffled. Still, the night was full of fun and nostalgia.