Okay, so this is a site about my picture books and other things related to kid’s picture books but I am stepping out of that realm for this post. One week ago I went to the Monkees concert in Brisbane. I bought the front row ticket at the pre-sale ages ago. I was so stoked to get a front row ticket – I didn’t care how much it cost. I also didn’t care that no one wanted to go with me or that people teased me about going. There were all the predictable age-related taunts regarding the band AND audience (to which I replied ‘I don’t care what you say, I am going to be with my people’). Fortunately, I don’t care about what people think of me and so I proudly purchased my solo ticket and waited (I’m also an only child and am cool with my own company). But in the meantime, I had the new Monkees album, Good Times!, to keep me going (along with all the other albums). And gosh is it a great album – my favourite album of the last 20 years, easily. It makes me happy and it warms my heart. For me, Good Times! is like a beautiful handmade quilt – it is complex, warm, rich and soulful. It is full of spirit. It is comforting. I love it. My 6 year old son loves it too, which makes me love it even more. We sing along to it together. I also bought the BluRay box set of the TV show – oh man it looks great (so much better than I remember from my old VCR cassettes…remember those?).
Anyway, eventually the year slipped away and the concert night arrived. It had been a big day – I had been at a pub all day for my office Christmas party (I am always a stayer – I stayed as long as I could before I had to go to the concert). I hopped in an Uber and crossed a very busy Friday night Brisbane. The first thing I noticed at QPAC was the demographic – there were kids and older people and everyone in between. Everyone looked super happy.
Speaking of happiness – and stepping away from the concert for a moment – the Monkees represent this to me. I am 37 so I wasn’t around for the first wave of Monkeemania but I did watch them (and tape them meticulously on VCR cassettes) when I was a kid and as a teenager I remained devoted to them. I loved the music, the characters, the aesthetic and the comedy in the Monkees TV show. I was raised by hippies and I tend to live in the past. It has actually been a lifelong dream of mine to see the Monkees live but, for one reason or another, it just never happened. Until 2 December 2016.
I took my seat – front row, extreme right – right near Peter Tork’s keyboard and a big stack of speakers. I was amused to see that the person sitting next to me was younger than me, probably by about 15 years! Take that haters! The concert started a little after 8:00pm with the Monkees theme song and opening credits playing on the big screen at the back of the stage. And then Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork took to the stage (Davy Jones passed away in 2012 and Papa Nez doesn’t tour anymore) and my dream was coming true! Here were my two favourite Monkees right in front of me singing ‘Listen to the Band’. I was in pure heaven.
And the hits just rolled on. Peter and Micky sang, played their respective instruments, bantered, joked, sauntered and had the whole audience captivated. Here’s the thing: I have been to a LOT of concerts in my 37 years. This was hands down the best. Let’s remember how the Monkees were formed and that 2016 is their 50th anniversary. Just think about those two things for a minute. Over the past week I have been wondering why? Why was this the best concert I have been to? Why have I been thinking about it so fondly for the past week. Well, to start with there was just something magical about it. It was bursting at the seams with heart, soul and that special something that is hard to express in words. That certain something. Micky and Peter (and their fabulous band) were so generous with their hearts and spirits … of course, it wasn’t a free concert and people expect to be entertained but this was more than that. There was a generosity of spirit (both from the Monkees, their band AND the audience) that I have never witnessed at any concert before. It is pretty ironic to me that a band that was formed for a TV show 50 years ago managed to put on a concert that was so full of genuine musicianship, spirit and camaraderie – it quite simply could not be faked.
At one point Peter talked about how their feelings were hurt when people were saying (years ago) that they weren’t ‘real’ musicians. I can understand why they were upset. Micky and Peter are both so talented on their respective instruments and Micky’s voice is so darn good. These guys are obviously in great shape.
Song highlights? Randy Scouse Git, Goin Down (FAB U LOUS), Oh My My (seriously good), D.W. Washburn, Daydream Believer (sigh…), I’m a Believer (danced to that one), Me & Magdalena, You Bring the Summer, Auntie Grizelda (Peter rocks) … oh and all the rest.They played 30 songs and each was fabulous – they played the hits and I could sing along to each song. Thank you for that. When Look Out, Here Comes Tomorrow came on, I thought ‘I don’t want this to end…I don’t want tomorrow to come!’. I marvelled at Micky and Peter up there in front of me displaying better showmanship and stage presence than performers half their age or younger. There was no precious behaviour either – want to take photos? No problem. Snap away. The multi media aspect of the show (with clips from the show and videos featuring Davy) being shown during the show added to the experience in a very tasteful way.
At one point I turned around and looked at the whole audience (remember I was front row). The smiles and warm-hearted faces of all the people of all ages were so beautiful. These were my people.
This was the perfect concert. And I was at it. As the concert ended (with me dancing to I’m a Believer) I was speechless. Wow. What a night. This review in the Australian was spot on.
2016 has been, in a lot of ways, a pretty dark, crappy year. The US election saddened and shocked me to my very core (remember: I am Canadian). Plus two of my idols died: Prince and David Bowie. Plus all the other stress and messes going on around the world. On a personal and professional level, 2016 was very rewarding though and alongside the good parts of 2016 I had Good Times! to celebrate with. And I was able to close out 2016 on a huge high having seen two guys who I have loved since I was a kid. And for 2.5 hours on Friday night at QPAC no one had any dark thoughts, there was no sadness, there was no stress, there was no negativity – there was just a whole lotta love, peace and happiness. What a gift.
I even contemplated taking my son (who was a bit miffed that I didn’t take him) and husband to the Gold Coast show next Friday but, you know, being an author and public servant is… well… not super lucrative. But I will always have my memory from Friday night and I will cherish it forever.
So, thank you to you Peter and Micky (and Mike and Davy). You have given me a lot of happiness throughout the years and I am so glad to have been able to finally see you live. I know I witnessed something unique and special last Friday night in Brisbane. I desperately hope that you tour Australia again; I hope I get to have that feeling again.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the Good Times. You guys rock.
Peace and love, Cori Brooke xo