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Good-natured Monkees Keep The Fans Believing

September 06, 1986|RANDY LEWIS | Times Staff Writer

Let's get right down to business--and deal with the two burning questions about the Monkees' 20th anniversary reunion tour, which arrived Thursday night at the Pacific Amphitheatre.

No--Mike Nesmith, a holdout on the lengthy tour, didn't finally give in and join Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork on stage, although rumors continue to circulate that Nesmith may capitulate when his former cohorts wind up a three-night stand at the Greek Theatre on Sunday.

But on to the second hot issue: Yes--Dolenz, Jones and Tork did resurrect the famous cross-legged "Monkee walk" from their old TV show as they strolled off stage at the end of the evening.

Actually, speculating about Nesmith's return and--especially--the Monkee walk makes more sense than a formal review when dealing with this reunion. As Nesmith--the "smart" Monkee--once observed, "The Monkees was not a band--it was a TV show."

That said, even adamant nostalgia haters would have to be unremitting grumps to complain about the trio's brisk and good-natured 55-minute performance. Attitude is everything when exhuming the musical past, and even though they are now in their 40s, Dolenz, Jones and Tork mustered a beguiling innocence that made their show work.

It also helped that the threesome can lean on a catalogue of expertly crafted pop hits, such as Neil Diamond's "I'm a Believer," Harry Nilsson's "Cuddly Toy" and John Stewart's "Daydream Believer"--disarming tunes that have held up surprisingly well after nearly two decades.

Unlike many revived '60s acts that robotically churn out old hits, the three Monkees exhibited genuine affection and care toward their music and an unpretentious attitude in their performance. And playing to a crowd of more than 11,000 screaming fans that spanned two generations undoubtedly boosted the exuberance level of the band members.

Even if the Monkees began as a corporate creation, it was a nonetheless excellently designed and executed product. And the fact that the Monkees always emphasized individual personalities at least as much as music may explain why today's teen-agers, whose pop stars have either too much personality (Prince, Madonna) or too little (you name them), are finding the simple charm of the Monkees so appealing.

So perhaps, contrary to Thomas Wolfe, you can go home again, as long as you keep the visit short and check the hard questions at the door.

But even before the question is posed about whether one can go home again, decide if that home is worth returning to.

It isn't, in the case of the three acts that preceded the Monkees: Herman's Hermits (minus Herman, a.k.a. Peter Noone), Gary Puckett & the Union Gap and the Grass Roots.

As each of these tired '60s refugees plodded through their respective sets, they resembled a businessman reluctantly polishing his restored vintage auto to protect an investment. The true spirit of rock 'n' roll, however, is the starry-eyed teen-ager who spends all day painstakingly waxing his first jalopy out of sheer love.

LIVE ACTION: Elton John will be at the Pacific Amphitheatre on Oct. 4. Tickets go on sale Monday. . . . Jeffrey Osborne will be at the Universal Amphitheatre for three nights starting Oct. 30. Tickets go on sale Sunday. . . . Eddie Money will be at the Wiltern Theatre Oct. 18. . . . The Sparks concert originally scheduled for Friday at the Hollywood Palladium has been moved to Sept. 14 at the Palace.

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