Micky Dolenz knows what makes a performance tick.
For his Chicago show at City Winery (June 13) Dolenz reached way back to his Monkees audition number (“Johnny B. Goode”) and carried on through to his latest tunes (“You Bring The Summer,” “She Makes Me Laugh,” and “Me & Magdalena”) from the 2016 Monkees reunion album Good Times.
He noted with justifiable pleasure the chart success of that release, half a century after The Monkees heyday. Back in 1967, that would have been the equivalent of a performer from 1917 scoring again.
Dolenz placed multiple 1960s hits throughout the show, dropping in appropriate nods to his fellow Monkees and other songwriters and artists, including Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, Jimi Hendrix, and Linda Ronstadt.
He and his stage band (including his sister Coco Dolenz for vocal duets and her own solos) were accompanied by a well-coordinated series of images on screens flanking the stage.
Video clips (silent) from the Monkees television series appeared, along with personal photos, collectibles, and audience singalong prompts such as tag lines from “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone.” All were surprisingly unobtrusive so that the screens and scenes added to the atmosphere but did not distract from focusing on center stage.
This was an evening with a master showman, in what I’ve come to call a “victory lap” appearance. Dolenz was in good voice and displayed an unerring sense of how to give an appreciative audience exactly what it was looking for.
A separate-admission “meet and greet” was similarly quick and efficient. Smiles. People in line spanned the generations with photos, record sleeves, even comic books ready for autographing. A house photographer was there to eliminate camera fumbling. So, presto, an instant “bucket list” souvenir.
For me that snapshot with Micky Dolenz completed a triple play of previous poses with Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork after their solo concerts over the past few years.
An appropriate way of acknowledging that, looking back at the legendary Summer of Love half a century later, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band might have been the lead force, but there were plenty of others engaged in musical storytelling.
One of the items signed, in fact, was the U.K. single sleeve for “Alternate Title” (the renamed “Randy Scouse Git” from the Monkees Headquarters album), a 1967 Dolenz composition inspired by a London night club party thrown by The Fab Four for The Monkees.
Copyright © 2017 Walter J. Podrazik, except City Winery photo © Philamonjaro