Micky Dolenz Celebrates The Monkees-Bergen Performing Arts Center – Englewood, NJ

Micky Dolenz Celebrates The Monkees

Bergen Performing Arts Center – Englewood, NJ – April 12, 2023

Review & Photos – Rebecca Wolf


In October 2021 I had the privilege of seeing Micky Dolenz and Mike Nesmith perform during The Monkees Farewell Tour.  While it was obvious Mike Nesmith was frail he appeared in good spirits, as he shared sweet stories with the crowd, and in good voice when he sang. Less than two months later Nesmith passed away. While I wasn’t surprised this was difficult to process, as the vision of him joyfully standing onstage remained clearly emblazoned on my mind. Having previously lost Davy Jones and Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz is now the last man standing from The Monkees, the fictional band created in 1966 for the sitcom The Monkees, which evolved into a beloved, Grammy nominated, pop rock band. 

Whenever integral members of a band pass away the question remains whether the band will continue and if so, in what capacity. This was Dolenz’ third time experiencing the loss of a bandmate and having to decide the direction in which he wanted to proceed. During the October 2021 show it was clear Dolenz still thoroughly enjoyed performing and maintained the vocal skills to do so. But, would he want to continue without any of his former band mates? If so, what would these shows look like? How would Dolenz pay tribute to his bandmates and to the band that unexpectedly took the world by storm? Well, Dolenz’ current tour, Micky Dolenz Celebrates The Monkees is all about beautifully celebrating the music of The Monkees and the special bond Dolenz, Jones, Tork, and Nesmith shared. 

On April 12th, a packed audience at Bergen Performing Arts Center exuberantly awaited the start of Micky Dolenz’ performance. There was a vast range of ages in the crowd from those who grew up watching The Monkees on TV during their original run, to those who likely watched them later on in syndication, to others who solely connected to the music of The Monkees through their parents. Regardless of how each audience member came to be a fan of The Monkees, the collective enthusiasm kept the crowd abuzz, wondering what the upcoming performance would bring. A beautiful backdrop of four individually framed, larger-than-life photos, one of each Monkee, gave the indication that the performance would celebrate the significance and connection between Jones, Tork, Nesmith and Dolenz. I somehow found comfort in the feeling that these four musicial artists, actors and friends were still together onstage, even if only in spirit. 

Dolenz, with a broad smile spread across his face, entered the stage to tremendous cheers from the crowd. There was no doubt that Dolenz, still appreciates the opportunity to continue performing and entertaining. Dolenz’ band, includes Wayne Avers, lead guitarist and musical director,  Alex Jules, keyboards, John Billings, bass, Rich Dart, drums, Gemma  “Coco” Dolenz, background and lead vocals and newest member, Emeen Zarookian, guitar.  The evening opened with The Monkees’ Billboard Hot 100 hit song “Last Train to Clarksville,” from the band’s 1966 self-title debut album. The infectious spirit of the song immediately heightened the excitement and energy of the crowd and had audience members singing and grooving in their seats.  Additional songs from the debut album included “Take a Giant Step” and “Papa Gene’s Blues,” before moving to 1967’s hit single “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” and its B-side “The Girl I Knew Somewhere.” The Monkees’ third album, Headquarters, was a quintessential turning point for the band, as it was the first album on which the group members made significant songwriting and instrumental contributions. The importance of this album was reflected on this evening as Dolenz and his band played the 14-song album front start to finish, including “You Told Me,” “Band 6,” ”You Just May Be the One,” “Sunny Girlfriend,” “Zilch,” and “No Time.” While many of these songs may not be well-known to casual listeners of The Monkees’ music, this audience was filled with devoted fans, many of whom knew each and every song. 

As Dolenz sang he played the tambourine and maracas and moved about the stage to sing alongside fellow bandmates, including Zarookian and sister Coco.  As if the music wasn’t enough to keep the crowd thoroughly engaged, the incredibly nostalgic, ceiling-high photos of The Monkees, projected on the stage backdrop, were heart-grabbing. Between numbers Dolenz shared stories about the beginnings of The Monkees, tales about each bandmate and sentimental antidotes about these dear friendships.  After Dolenz spoke about each bandmate the stage faded to black and touching videos paid homage to each wonderful member of this incredibly unique band. 

While the band had already played for close to an hour and a half, they returned from intermission with as much energy as if it was the start of the evening. The second set opened with “Porpoise Song,” the theme from the band’s movie “Head,” before transitioning into the sweet, breezy “Pleasant Valley Sunday.” The entire audience sang along with abandonment during the joyful “Daydream Believer,” a song that’s bound to elicit a smile and nostalgic feelings from its first distinctive piano notes. The evening’s final number, the upbeat, energetic, Neil Diamond penned “I’m a Believer” had the Bergen PAC crowd on their feet, hands in the air, singing with gusto. 

There are people who question whether a performer can or should continue without their former bandmates. Can they do the music justice? Will it feel authentic? While I can’t answer that for every band in every situation, I can honestly say Micky Dolenz and his bandmates did an incredible job keeping the music of The Monkees alive, while paying tribute to the memories of Davy Jones, Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith. Definitely a unique band and four wonderfully talented individuals worth celebrating!