Well, I’ve been MIA for about a week, living out a childhood dream. Yes, folks, I’ve been stalking the Monkees around the state of Indiana. In fact, as I started typing this they were about to do their third and final show in Indiana and I hated that I couldn’t be there. But unfortunately, I had to come out of my dream world.
It all began about a week ago on a pleasant valley Sunday–a day I looked forward to since it was announced that they may be coming to my town. Actually, I had been looking forward to it since I was last able to see them twenty-two years ago! I had tracked down a pre-sale code and waited anxiously at my computer for the tickets to go on sale back in March. I’ve never had good luck buying tickets. The first time I saw the Monkees in 1987, it was at the ASU Activity Center in Tempe, Arizona–we had last row tickets in the huge arena. The Monkees were little ants on the stage, far, far away. But they were there, and even as a ten-year-old I appreciated the fact that I was sharing the same air in that moment (along with several thousand other fans, but still…).
More recently, I bought tickets for a group of us to see Elton John and Billy Joel at Conseco Field House. I splurged for the mid-tier seats, which were nearly $100 each. How dismayed was I when we started hiking up and up and up to our seats the night of the concert–once again to find ourselves in the very last row. *Sigh* You’d think I’d have done better at my next attempt for Michael Buble tickets, but no, I was again in the very last row! It seems I was cursed.
Thankfully, that was then and you can imagine my joy at seeing two tickets pop up–2nd row, orchestra pit, smack-dab, center stage at the Murat! Oh my my, I was being rewarded for something! I couldn’t type those credit card numbers in fast enough–please, take my money–take it all! I was going to be just feet away from them! VIP tickets were also offered for an additional $60, but they only promised VIP parking, a private bar, and private bathrooms. There was absolutely no mention of a meet-and-greet and so I didn’t buy them. Bummer.
After a great church service Sunday morning in which my pastor talked about “setting aside every weight that distracts” (and believe me, I’ve felt some conviction on that count this week!), I went home and began preparing for the evening ahead. I showered, curled my hair, actually applied make-up, and even decked my fingernails out in awesome flower-power nail polish strips. But I couldn’t eat. In fact, I think my anxiousness was making me a little sick.
My wonderful brother was to accompany me and I was so excited when my door bell rang. It was time! I wanted to get to the theater early to inquire about a meet-and-greet, as it seemed from facebook postings that most cities were having them. You can imagine how crushed I was when the woman at the ticket booth told me there was a meet and greet but that you had to have bought a VIP ticket in advance. *Sigh* Talk about nine times blue…
As my brother and I took our seats up front, my emotions welled up. I should have brought a kleenex because I was going to cry! The anticipation was almost too much. My brother looked at me concerned and asked if I was going to be okay. I was just so happy after all these years of not knowing if I’d ever have a chance to see them perform live again– and here it was, about to happen! The pre-show consisted of nostalgic video clips–commercials they had made for Kool-aid, Kellogg’s, and Black Label, as well as the trailer for their movie “Head.” Then, in a magical moment, the back-up band took the stage and began playing the most wonderful medley of Monkees’ tunes (I wonder if we could snag the arrangement for my community band…hmmm…). And then they were there–right in front of me! Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, and Peter Tork–they really are real!
The next two hours I was blown away in a total “tear the top right of my head” kind of way. They performed something like 37 songs and we were on our feet, dancing and cheering through them all. I’m probably one of the rare fans who never could make up my mind about who my favorite Monkee was. When I was little it was Davy, of course–he was just so…dreamy. But as I got older I started to appreciate Mike and Peter more for their musicality, with most of my favorite songs being ones that Mike penned. And I always loved Micky’s goofiness, comedic timing, and incredible voice. Well, after Sunday night, I could happily award Peter my “favorite” trophy (I’m sure he is thrilled by the honor). I was mesmerized by him on stage all night…telling stories, dancing, playing the keyboard, banjo and guitar, wearing that fabulous red shirt the entire time…and then beautifully wailing “Do I have to do this all over again?!” Wow. Just wow. Yes, please do!
My video of Peter, grooving to “I Don’t Think You Know Me.” I love the chord progressions in his version of this song:
My brother was impressed by Micky’s vocals, which are still incredible, possibly even better than they were 40 years ago. Then, there was a moment during “Sometime in the Morning” when Micky sang “you’ll just reach out and she will be there” and he pointed at me!!! OMG. My brother even noticed and had to give me an approving nudge and smile.
After the show, my brother asked if I wanted to stick around for them to come out of the theater. I did, but I also knew he needed to get on the road. So we left and he dropped me off at home. Then it occurred to me, I have to go back! I quickly made my way back downtown and was relieved to see fans still waiting by the door. I had already missed Micky, who had apparently been quickly whisked away, but Davy and Peter were yet to come out. I talked to another lucky fan who had gotten to sing along during “Goin’ Down” when Micky handed the mike to him. Davy eventually came out and was kind enough to start signing autographs! He was pretty much mobbed by the crowd, but incredibly gracious. Someone passed him my “Music Box” set, which made its way back to me with a pretty red signature on it: “David Jones” Wow. I was a star collector. Then Peter came out, but he quickly hopped on a bus and like Micky, was whisked away.
I made my way back home, totally on cloud nine that I had gone back and scored an autograph, but realized that it was now Monday and that I had to work in just a few short hours to pay for all this splurging! I couldn’t upload my pictures and videos fast enough to share with other fans, equally as obsessed as myself. During my lunch break Monday as I scoured facebook, I saw that someone had an extra ticket to the show in South Bend for Tuesday night–and it included a meet-and-greet! I didn’t even have to think before replying my interest. I had to ask my boss if I could use a half day’s vacation to follow the Monkees to South Bend and the momentary embarrassment was totally worth it!
I still couldn’t eat. On Tuesday I had a bagel and a granola bar. Despite my queasy stomach, I went through Sunday’s ritual of getting ready once again and then set out for the three-hour trek to South Bend. I listened to The Monkees the whole way there and made it to my destination in no time. I arrived at the theater and suddenly became very extroverted. I struck up conversations with at least five different individuals, my excitement overflowing. That is so not like me! My sudden outgoing-ness continued throughout the show.
My seat Tuesday night was in the fifth row. To my dismay, the fan sitting next to me said that people never stand at this theater. What?! How can we not stand and dance during this excellent show? The person sitting on my other side was a guy who looked totally miserable to be there. I don’t think he clapped or cheered or sang along once the whole night. Yet he wore a precious meet-and-greet wristband. I felt the in-justus of that, knowing several true fans out there who couldn’t even get to the show, let along hope for a meet-and-greet. Anyway, I didn’t let him keep me from having a good time. I complied most of the evening with the unspoken “remain seated” rule, but I cheered and clapped my hands above my head (I am Pentecostal, after all), and sang along and bopped about in my seat. I’m sure Mr. Fuddy-Duddy next to me was quite annoyed and normally I would have cared, but not that night. The Monkees were entertaining my socks off. Weren’t they good? They made me happy!
At one point during “What Am I Doing Hangin’ Round” the band tried to get everyone on their feet and clapping. A few people in the orchestra pit area jumped to their feet in front of me, but no one did in the area around me. I couldn’t take it. I would be back upon my feet and I had to dance on! So I jumped up and clapped my hands and then it happened. Peter noticed me…pointed at me…and then mouth to me, “I love you” very emphatically. Wow (have I said that before?)–Peter and I had a MOMENT!
So far, I haven’t been able to find any video to document the highlight of my Monkees fandom and my MOMENT with Peter, but I do have my video of the song, taken up to the point when I jumped to my feet (and I do apologize that if you dare to watch this clip you’ll have to hear me poorly singing along–proof positive I made a good decision in joining band and not choir!):
Didn’t it look like he was singing to me? Ahhhh…. And really, it couldn’t get much better than that. Yes, after the show I did get to meet them. They took individual pictures with each fan and I had them sign my tour poster. The meet-and-greet went very fast. I hoped Peter would recognize me as that girl in the fifth row, cheering and clapping the whole night, but alas, he forgot this girl. But I still had my MOMENT and now I had photos of myself with these three guys who have made me happy every step of the way since I was introduced to them 25 years ago. As for life experiences, it doesn’t get much better than that. Oh, what a night!
The last few days have been rough… I think I’m experiencing the crash after the high. Thursday night, while The Monkees were performing north of Chicago, I was getting ready to perform myself. And just before our patriotic community band concert began, I heard the familiar melody of “I’m a Believer” flowing over the loud speakers. Oh man, it was a sign! I looked out to the audience and they were swaying and singing along. And then a bit later they played “Last Train to Clarksville.” It made me happy that these were the songs chosen to warm up the crowd–their music clearly makes a lot of people happy, not just us die-hard fans.
I’m finally starting to have an appetite again and I slept a good 10 hours last night, soaking up all that rest. I’m grateful to the guys and the wonderful members of their back-up band for giving the fans this tour. If I’m this tired after attending two nights’ performances, I can only imagine how exhausted they must be. And yet you’d never know it by the energy and excitement they project from stage. They’ve given their fans wonderful memories, really putting their hearts and souls into it. Thank you, Davy, Micky, and Peter!
My Monkees week: