Boston, July 2001
The Monkees were an amazing pop act in its purest (manufactured) sense. They boasted the kind of songs where by the time the second chorus came around, you already knew it. It was infectiously simple pop music at its best.
That was thirty years ago. The worst crime a band can commit is to be boring. At least if they're awful or brilliant they can draw an emotional response. But for the most part the only thing that the Monkees inspire now is apathy. So we get an hour and ten minutes of pure, unadulterated drawn-out boredom. Lots of solos, cabaret-style band introductions, the sax player taking centre stage, and god awful plodding songs are just some of the deficiencies that infect the set.
Meanwhile unaffected Bostonians ask each other about work on Monday and comment on Davy Jones' similarity to Austin Powers. We even have to listen to the bloody songs their mothers played to them as kids as well as enduring a (not very big) collection of solo 'hits' the guys have racked up through the years.
Even the opener 'Last Train to Clarksville' is more of a plodding National Express than a speeding locomotive. Then, after an hour in purgatory comes the chiming piano bar of 'Daydream Believer'. The voice may have deteriorated, the youth long since faded, but the lovestruck teen sentiment remains. This is possibly the best three minutes pop has ever known. Follow it up with 'Stepping Stone'and 'I'm a Believer' and you have nostalgic heaven on earth.
But this late late show doesn't mean that the Monkees can be forgiven for their sins over the last 70 minutes, never mind the last thirty years. It's more of a reminder that once this band could kill you stone dead with an awesome pop hook, but now they're more likely to send you into a deep sleep.
Paddy Mc Donnell