SUMMERS OF LOVE HITS MORRISTOWN AND WESTBURY — At the invitation of Micky Dolenz’s publicist, I Uber’d out to last Thursday’s Summers Of Love show in Morristown, toplined by Dolenz and Mark Lindsay. Morristown, which I had never been to before, was a quaint town for sure, looking like the best kind of Norma Rockwell-painting if you get my drift. When I entered the beautiful Mayo PAC hall, the entire group were just finishing a lengthy sound check, that sounded just great. The Fab Four, which served as the openers, as well as the backing band for the two headliners, were just great. I saw producer Andrew Sandoval hastily running around the hall, checking the accompanying video presentation and stage-cues. This was their second date, the first a few weeks back in San Diego and the house was SRO. I had dinner with the band and found everyone in terrific spirits. The house lights dimmed promptly at 8:00 PM and the Fab Four already splendidly attired in their Sgt. Pepper-ish era outfits, took to the stage to delight of the packed audience. Dolenz’s regular guitarist Waye Avers and his sister Coco, also joined in the proceedings. Face it, there’s nothing like the music of The Beatles and each and every song was richly rewarded by thunderous applause. I’ve heard a number of Beatle-cover bands before, but this was without question the best. Kudos.
At 8:45 PM, Dolenz and Lindsay sauntered onstage to much applause and immediately broke into Boyce and Hart’s “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” which, if history serves, Lindsay’s group, Paul Revere and the Raiders had out first, but The Monkees had the hit with. The two, who’ve known each other for years, have a great rapport and true to what Dolenz has said in several pre-show interviews, there is very definitely a Rat Pack-allure to the proceedings. Dolenz said recently to Centrraljersey.com, “I have always wanted to do a show a little bit more like the Rat Pack if you will, where we come out together and stay onstage together rather than do one person’s set and then the next person’s set. Mark is very, very funny and has a very clever sense of humor; very similar to mine. So when we started working together and doing things, we immediately fell into a really interesting, fun kind of chemistry,” said Dolenz. “Besides the fact that he’s a great singer, of course. We just really hit it off on the comedy end of it, which I love.”
Many might recall that the two did a Teen Idols tour (with Peter Noone) several years back that was very well received.
Dolenz, relying on his acting skills was just perfect. Also, immensely enjoyable was watching the accompanying video clips; from both The Monkees TV show and Lindsay’s Where the Action Is TVshow, which, for trivia-fans, the legendary Dick Clark produced. The show premiered on June 27, 1965.
While Lindsay delved deep into The Raiders catalog, including “Kicks” and just a wonderful rendering of “Indian Reservation,” which Dolenz said was the biggest single ever on their label Columbia, until some kid named Michael Jackson came out with a song called “Billie Jean.”
As always, hearing Dolenz perform songs like “She,” “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” and, of course, “I’m A Believer” is a treat. His voice is virtually unchanged from the Monkee-heyday and as has been said before, a perfect combination of the best of Freddie Mercury and Roy Orbison. So true.
Friday’s Westbury show was a big tighter and ended with “Twist and Shout,” and The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love.”
At Thursday’s show, spotted was PR-pasha Randy Alexander, Romeo Delight’s Buddy Blanch and Mike Morsch from centraljersey.com; while at the Westbury show, we spotted Pop Entertainment’s Brad Balfour and renowned photographer William Coupon. Thanks also to photographer Jeff Smith who shot the picture of Dolenz and Lindsay.
This is the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, where an eclectic group of approximately 100,000 – mostly young hippies – converged on the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood in San Francisco. This show brings the memories back; a must-see for sure.
CHICAGO AT JONES BEACH — According to iHeart Radio Program Director Tom Cuddy, “At 50 years in, Chicago still works harder and has more fun than some of the younger acts of today. At Jones Beach, they delivered a high energy, 2 hour & 15 min greatest hits set before a sold out crowd of about 15,000 fans, many of which were well under 50 years old! They pumped out 30 songs featuring vocals that were as pristine as ever and brass instrumentation that was as impeccable as the original recordings.”
Here are some additional thoughts from Digital Journal’s Markos Papadatos, who attended this past weekend’s show:
“Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Chicago,” a voice announced from the stage, as the iconic band kicked off their Jones Beach set accordingly with “Introduction,” and it was followed by the Robert Lamm-penned “Questions 67 and 68,” which earned them a standing ovation.
“How are we doing tonight Jones Beach?” Robert Lamm asked, and the crowd went nuts. They were able to get the fans to put their hands up in the air during “Dialogue (Part I & II).” Jeff Coffey’s rich, powerhouse voice is an eighth world wonder in itself.
The band noted that their set tonight was going to be lengthy, especially since they have had a “lengthy career.” “We are now 50 years old as a band,” they said.
They rocked on soaring harmonies on “Wake Up Sunshine,” while “Call on Me,” written by Lee Loughnane, had a smooth and jazzy vibe to it, which featured both a forest and blue background on the giant televised screen. After “(I’ve Been) Searchin’ So Long,” they immediately broke into the instrumental “Mongonucleosis,” which had a neat Spanish beat to it, and they had the audience clapping along.
One of the highlights in the first half of their show was their hypnotic acoustic rendition of “If You Leave Me Now,” with Keith Howland and Jeff Coffey on acoustic guitars, coupled with Coffey’s crystalline voice. They introduced Coffey as the newest member of Chicago, and the crowd gave him a raucous round of applause.
“Jones Beach, are we having a good time or what?” Robert Lamm asked, and the answer was a resounding “yes.” They went on to dedicate “Another Rainy Day in New York City” to “all the boys in Brooklyn Tech.” They closed the acoustic portion of their show with the infectious # 1 song “Look Away,” which the audience jumped to their feet and applauded for the sensational soulful vocals of Lou Pardini. And then they picked up the pace with “Make Me Smile” and “So Much to Say, So Much to Give.”
During their second set, the best performance of the night was their live rendition of the wedding staple “You’re the Inspiration,” which earned them a standing ovation, as couples were slow dancing in the aisles.
Equally flawless was “Beginnings,” where they took their Long Island fans on a trip down to memory lane to 1969, while “Street Player” was upbeat, funky and fun.
After their adult contemporary classic “Hard to Say I’m Sorry,” they segued into “Get Away” and closed with the piano-driven “Saturday in the Park,” and on an empowering note with the mid-tempo “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day.”
For their encore, Chicago treated Jones Beach to “Free,” as well as “25 or 6 to 4,” where it was evident that they saved the best for last. Keith Howland nailed the lengthy lead guitar solo on the latter tune, which was sheer perfection.
Overall, Chicago was able to take their Jones Beach audience on a musical journey over the past five decades. Their music encompassed such genres as pop, rock, jazz, funk, soul and adult contemporary. They proved that they are a band that gets bigger and better each year they play live. Their fabulous show at Jones Beach felt like three concerts in one (since Chicago performed two lengthy sets, and The Doobie Brothers performed a long set, all of which could have been separate concerts in themselves). If anybody has yet to see Chicago live in concert, they are truly missing out, as they put one of the best live spectacles of 2017. Chicago’s concert at Jones Beach garnered five out of five stars.
SHORT TAKES — Quite an amazing article on the legendary-gossip queen Liz Smith last week, by John Leland, in the New York Times. For every entertainment-oriented individual in the biz, Smith was a daily ritual. A must-read for sure. Check it out here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/28/nyregion/liz-smith-lions-of-new-york.html?mcubz=1 … Speaking of Micky Dolenz, he performs his A Little Bit Broadway; A Little Bit Rock & Roll show this Friday and Saturday at Feinstein’s in San Francisco at the recently-renovated Nikko Hotel … This Wednesday, The Sinner premieres on USA with Jessica Biel, Bill Pullman and RobertFunaro … Actress Maria Bello is set to join CBS’ NCIS this season – episode 4 in fact. Bello, who has been in some tremendous movie and TV shows (including the much-missed Prime Suspect) will be a perfect foil for Mark Harmon. Great move for sure … We had dinner at Pierre’s in Bridgehampton this weekend and found it to be one of the noisiest restaurants we’ve ever been in. Great music, but between that and the noise, it was a rather hard-to-take experience … Jeannette Walls used to do gossip-coverage for New York Magazine. She left there to write and her book The Glass Castle (about a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads) became a smash hit. Its now a movie, starring Woody Harrelson, Brie Larson and Naomi Watts, which opens soon. She was always very gracious. I hope the movie is a major success.
The Elton John Scrapbook is available on Amazon and at other ebook retailers.