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Michael Nesmith of the Monkees delights fans at Phoenixville's Colonial Theatre

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Michael Nesmith of The Monkees isn’t exactly known for being a road warrior. With the exception of a few tours with his past and present Monkee bandmates (Davy Jones died in 2012), the last two years have brought Nesmith back to the road for his first official solo dates since 1992.

 

But don’t mistake this for indifference or laziness. Nesmith is more than just a musician. He’s an innovator (after all, he IS partially responsible for the beginning stages of MTV), thespian, Liquid Paper heir, novelist, entrepreneur and producer. Yes, Michael Nesmith never seems to have a problem staying occupied.

 

Over the last year Nesmith has cited several reasons for his long awaited return to the stage, but don’t expect a greatest hits package if he decides to stop by a venue near you.Photo: Chris Grasso

 

Nesmith made it clear from the start of his "Movies of the Mind" tour that his solo songs (in lieu of his Monkees catalog) would be primarily spotlighted. While this could serve as a detraction for casual supporters, it wasn’t apparent Friday night, when a full-fledged group of Nesmith fans hailing from Florida to Malvern made their way to the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville to sing along to Nesmith’s music that Rolling Stone has described as the “the best music you never heard.’’

 
Check out Chris Grasso's awesome photos of the night on Philly2Philly's Facebook page!

 

Nesmith introduced each song with a short vignette (in Nesmith’s own words) of stories describing what comes to mind when he performs the respective song. The songs in the setlist, an eclectic range of everything from country rock to calypso, were sometimes segued into each other in the form of a medley (including previously unreleased Monkees track ‘Nine Times Blue’), while others, including ‘Different Drum’ (made famous by Linda Ronstadt), other unreleased Monkees track ‘Some of Shelly’s Blues’ (also covered by numerous artists) and ‘Yellow Butterfly’ stood alone.

 

Nesmith (playing his usual twelve-string guitar-albeit an acoustic one) and his all star band, which consists of Chris Scruggs (mandolin, guitar, steel guitar), keyboardist Boh Cooper (Peter Cetera, Todd Rundgren), bassist Joe Chemay (Pink Floyd, Beach Boys), and drummer Paul Leim (Lionel Richie, Shania Twain) really kicked things into high gear on ‘Cruisin’, set closer ‘Grand Ennui’ and encore closer (and arguably his most popular Monkees song) ‘Listen to the Band.’  

 

While Nesmith sometimes gets a bad rap for being labelled the “serious” Monkee, he came off as sincere, humorous, introspective and gracious throughout the night and hasn’t really lost much of his vocal range at 70 years of age. Whether he’s conscious of the effect the Monkees have had on multiple generations is unknown (a massive security guard prevented us from talking to him), but the ear to ear smile after the thunderous ovation he received by the audience isn’t something you can fake. The inclusion of another well-known Monkees song would’ve have been the icing on the cake, but Michael Nesmith has always been a man whose stayed true to himself and his convictions.

 

And nobody had any issue with that on Friday night.

 

 

Setlist:

 

Calico Girlfriend

Nine Times Blue

Little Red Rider

Propinquity (I've Just Begun To Care)

Tomorrow And Me

Different Drum

Some of Shelly's Blues

Joanne

Silver Moon

Rio

Casablanca Moonlight

Yellow Butterfly

Light

Rays

Cruisin'

Dance

Tonite

Grand Ennui

 

Encore:

 

Rising in Love

Listen to the Band

 

 Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

 

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Awesome photos: Chris Grasso (littlestarsportraits@yahoo.com)