Monday, October 25, 2010

Forgotten Hits Concert Review: PETER NOONE and MICKY DOLENZ (Saturday, October 23rd, at The Star Plaza Theater in Merrillville, Indiana

It's impossible to go to a Peter Noone concert and NOT have a good time!
He's the consummate performer and knows exactly how to play to an audience ... very charismatic and entertaining every step of the way.

What I really enjoy about a Peter Noone / Herman's Hermits concert is the bond Noone creates with his audience. Granted, many are extreme fans who have seen him perform dozens of times, but he plays to everyone in attendance, especially children.

Noone seems truly committed to providing an entertaining show without holding himself at a distance from the audience. He is witty and very much at ease with a crowd; bantering and full of humorous anecdotes. Whatever he has done throughout the years to maintain his vocal ability has worked wonders;
he sounds as good today as he did 45 years ago.
-- Frannie (Mrs. K)

I totally agree!
ALWAYS a good show (and this was one of the best!)

Both Micky AND Peter (no, not THAT Peter!!! Peter Noone!!!) were in top form Saturday Night at The Star Plaza Theater in Merrillville, Indiana (the butt of countless jokes that night) ...

Early on, Noone quipped that ALL of The British Invasion Acts had their dreams early on in their careers ...

The Beatles wanted to play Shea Stadium ...

The Rolling Stones wanted to play Carnegie Hall ...

And Herman's Hermits ALWAYS dreamed of playing in Merrillville, Indiana!!!

Vocally both artists sounded as good as they've ever sounded and their back-up bands (especially Peter's) were incredibly tight, providing a PERFECT wall of sound for both Micky's and Peter's vocal gymnastics.

Micky kicked things off with The Monkees' big 1986 comeback single "That Was Then, This Is Now", a Top 20 Hit after MTV resurrected their TV Show by playing it in heavy rotation, a move that, coupled with Rhino's re-release of their entire catalog, put The Monkees back on the charts numerous times for the rest of the decade ... and spawned countless reunion tours with at least two ... or three ... and once all FOUR original members. (With the 45th Anniversary looming around the corner, one can only hope that SOMETHING will materialize again next year!)

An added bonus was the fact that Micky's back-up band included Vance Brescia, who wrote "That Was Then, This Is Now", on bass guitar ... later doubling his duties as Peter Noone's lead guitarist, musical director and chief choreographer! (lol) This guy's a show all by himself!

Dolenz ran through many of The Monkees' biggest hits including a few surprises
... "Words" and "She" were especially nice to hear again ... and he even did a couple of Davy's tunes ("A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" and "Daydream Believer", which received one of the biggest ovations of the night ... I can't even imagine that it could have gone over any better had Davy been there himself to sing it!!!)

Also included were "Last Train To Clarksville", "Pleasant Valley Sunday" and, of course, The Monkees' BIGGEST Hit, "I'm A Believer" which, Dolenz pointed out to all the kids in the audience, HE sang WAY before Shrek ever did!

Micky also did a KILLER rendition of The Beatles' "Oh! Darling" (more on that below) and "Johnny B. Goode", the song he said he auditioned with for The Monkees, that ultimately won him the role.

Surprising: Only one cut from Micky's new CD "King For A Day" was featured.
(See our review here:

Click here: Forgotten Hits: King For A Day)
He and his sister Coco sang "Crying In The Rain" one of the CD highlights.

Coco also did "Different Drum" as a tribute to fellow Monkee (and the tune's songwriter) Michael Nesmith, who penned the tune for Linda Ronstadt ... it became her very first hit with The Stone Poneys at the height of Monkeemania back in 1967.

Even MORE Surprising ... Shocking Really ... was the fact that Micky's new CD was NOT on sale at the merchandise table in the lobby!!!
What's up with that?!?!?
The guy's got a brand new CD out and instead they were hawking a live disk that Micky recorded a while ago. Seems like this was a truly missed opportunity here to show that Micky is still making GREAT new music at this stage of the game. That, along with his recent "MyRecordFantasy" disk should have been prominently displayed.

Click here: View the Videos! MyRecordFantasy

As for Peter Noone ... untoppable ... virtually ALL of the hits were presented in full-length, PERFECT sound ... "I'm Into Something Good", "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat", "Silhouettes", "Mrs. Brown, You've Got A Lovely Daughter", "Wonderful World", "I'm Henry The VIII, I Am", "Just A Little Bit Better", "A Must To Avoid" (introduced as "She's a Muscular Boy"), "Listen People", "Leaning On The Lamp Post", "Dandy", "There's A Kind Of Hush" and "No Milk Today" ... every one a Top 20 Hit back in the '60's (and even that meant leaving out a few other legitimate Top 20 Hits like "East, West", "This Door Swings Both Ways", "Don't Go Out Into The Rain" and "Museum" and "I Can Take Or Leave Your Loving"!!!)

Frannie was emotionally moved by Peter's reading of "End Of The World", which she described as "absolutely brilliant" ... and every non-musical moment was filled with well-scripted, fine-tuned-to-perfect-timing comedy vinettes, including some great ad-libbed bits when things went "less than perfect" on stage!

A must-see show for ANY fan of great '60's music. Herman's Hermits were one of the top three acts of The British Invasion, holding their own with the likes of The Beatles and The Dave Clark Five (and out-selling The Rolling Stones for YEARS during their hey-day. And yes, Noone did his spot-on Mick Jagger imitation Saturday Night, too! As well as Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton and Tom Jones!)

He looked and sounded great ... as physically fit as I've ever seen him (I meant to ask him backstage what kind of vitamins he takes ... man, I was exhausted just WATCHING him from the audience!!!) He describes himself as a "17 year old boy trapped in a 62 year old man's body" ... but I swear his earlier quote to me (during our Forgotten Hits Interview a few years ago) stating that he can "pass for 35 in the dark" couldn't be more true!
(You can read the whole interview here:
Click here: Forgotten Hits - Forgotten Hits Interviews Peter Noone)

Another highlight of ANY Peter Noone show is the self-described NOONATICS, Peter's legion of devotees, who never miss a show. (We sat with two of them who, we found out later, are also regular Forgotten Hits Readers!) In addition to raw enthusiasm, they also bring their Union Jacks, their light-up wands and their own choreography to each performance. They're almost as much fun to watch as the show up on stage.

If you've never been to a Peter Noone Concert, I can only say ...

Why the hell not?!?!?!!!! What's wrong with you?!?!?!

You're not going to get more bang for your buck anywhere else on the oldies circuit ... Peter is Herman is Peter ... and he's having a BALL doing this again!

-- Kent Kotal / Forgotten Hits

A few on stage (and backstage) photos, courtesy of Michele Abrams:

Peter and Kent, backstage dressing room, pre-show

Micky Dolenz with Michele Abrams
(who took the rest of these photos)

Peter Noone ... with wood
(Guess we were BOTH pretty excited to meet backstage! lol)

Actually, his wardrobe closet collapsed right before our very eyes!

I reminded him that all great rock stars trash their hotel rooms,

NOT their dressing rooms ...

and typically AFTER the show, not before!

(By the way, Peter told me that he ALWAYS listens to Jimi Hendrix
before going on stage ... says it inspires him ...

and let me tell you, Hendrix was BLASTING in his dressing room while I was there)

Peter Noone ... Center Stage ...
the consummate performer

Michele also sent me this review of the concert, published on her Oldies Music News Web Page: Click here: Oldies Concert News & Reviews

On October 23rd, 2010 I had the privilege to attend a concert featuring Micky Dolenz and Hermans Hermits Starring Peter Noone at Star Plaza.

Micky Dolenz, best known as a former member of The Monkees, took the stage, at 8 pm. The experience started smoothly with a song titled, “That Was Then, This Is Now”, written by Vance Brescia. The tune was an upbeat comeback song as a part of The Monkees’ 20th anniversary reunion tour in 1986. (Brescia was on Bass for Micky for this show and later took his regular spot on Guitar for Herman's Hermits Starring Peter Noone.) The show progressed rather effortlessly. Micky and Coco (Micky’s Sister) played off of each others vocals first-class on the great Howard Greenfield and Carole King’s“Crying in the Rain" which is on Micky’s new CD, King For a Day. I did rather enjoy Coco on the song “Different Drum”, written by Mike Nesmith and best known as a #13 Billboard Hot 100 hit in 1967 by the Stone Poneys who featured Linda Ronstadt . Moving to one of my favorites... the vocals and sound of Stepping Stone was actually very amazing ... I thought for sure there was going to be some sort of trick to get the harmonizing and “Stepping Stone Sound”... I was paying careful attention and I believe it was all 100% real vocal harmonies with little if any help on the tech end. I was exceedingly impressed. Sleepy Jean was the highlight... complete with waving arms and swaying in the seats... Just a little more “oomph” and it would have given chills. The stories about Hendrix opening for The Monkees in 1967 only to hear during his (Hendrix’s opening act) the crowd chanting “We want the Monkees” and the visit to Abbey Road to hang with the Beatles added a bit of humor and nostalgia to the show.

Then we come to Mr. Noone.

Based on the Grand Entrance, you would have thought the Queen herself was visiting with a Rock Twist. The band marching, the fans on their feet with glow sticks, Union Jack shirts, flags, towels, and even phone cases! You name it; it was there.

A great feature to every Peter Noone show is his Dedicated Fans! ... The Noonatics! They were there in full force from all over the Nation and even in from Canada for this show. Peter seemed to enjoy every moment. He especially paid attention to the younger fans in attendance, giving them free CD’s and throwing and kicking T-shirts out from the stage, joking with the youngsters to make copies for all their friends.

When a fan presented Noone with an old Herman's Hermits album cover, the younger crowd received a brief history lesson on what “CD’s used to look like” and everyone else got a good chuckle out of it. The Age of Technology meeting the Golden Age of Pop Rock. A particularly funny part of the evening (though there were many!) was when he held the album cover from the audience over his face and sang. He then began to walk back across the stage only to realize the picture of his head was backwards at that point.

The music was great, covering the hits such as “Mrs. Brown, You've Got A Lovely Daughter”, “Heartbeat”, “Henry The VII” among others, and of course “There's A Kind Of Hush All Over The World”. The additions of brief stints of music from the Stones, Tom Jones, Johnny Cash, along with Peter's comedic emphasis and takes on portraying the mannerisms of such artists, kept all eyes on the stage.

Overall the show was a sort of trip down memory lane with comedic flare and even some off stage adventure (which for a moment looked like he may not make it back onto the stage only to add more of a “in good fun” tone). Peter at one point stated he is “a 17 year old boy, in a 62 year old body” I know I, and many others were left feeling a bit younger after having such an amazing musical adventure. Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone is a show you should not miss.

This Concert Experience was definitely an Affirmation that Laughter is good for the soul, but Laughter and Good Music is even Better.
~ Michele Sweeney Abrams

We also got to meet Forgotten Hits Contest Winner Janis Johnson at the show ... earlier in the week, I had sent her a "friendly reminder" that the Peter Noone Concert was coming up this Saturday, to which she replied:

You seriously did not just remind me that Herman is coming, did you??!!!

The outasite fact that Peter Noone will be here is all I can think, breathe, dream about this week!!! I am only seconds away from wanting to make an "I Love Herman!" sign!!!I am going absolutely, positively NUTS with excitement over this!!!

Yes, I'm crazy for Herman, and in a cosmos maybe only you can understand, at some point, as a young teen, I knew I would always like this guy! The fact that he still sells out shows, and tours every weekend means that thousands of his original fans picked well!

I will write to you after the show, (once they revive me, that is, because he still makes me feel faint!!!)

Love, (and thank you and Peter Noone!!!)


And here is Janis' review (also published on Peter Noone's website at

Here it is. Duck and cover, because I write (and throw) like a girl!

Thank you, again!

Warning for you Forgotten Hits fans:

I am, was, and always will be a Herman girl, so that’s who I write about.

And since I am a girl, I have a female slant on things that will be painful for guys to read.

But, we are the other half, and something that kind of peeved me in the 60s was that girls were never given “credibility” regarding the artists we chose to follow.

If a guy liked The Beatles, it must be for their lyrics, but if a girl like Herman, well it was Teen Idol thing.

The issue is really about entertainment, and it seems when girls make an artist or group famous, that gets trivialized through a male-dominated lens.

Value equals value equal value.

Women loved and “got” Herman! And while there were four Beatles, one guy, Peter Noone really led Herman’s Hermits to fame. Both my brothers are Viet Nam veterans, and one was a real HH fan. He told me their albums were played in Phu Bai all the time (as well as The Fifth Dimension, so go figure? Kind of different than what the movies say was the soundtrack for our generation’s war.)

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Unfortunately, even if a film director WANTED to showcase Herman's Hermits music in a film about the Viet Nam Era, they most-likely would have been denied the opportunity to do so, thanks to the iron-fist tactics of one Allen B. Klein, who wouldn't license Herman's Hermits material for such projects. Again, check out our FH Interview with Peter for more frustrating details on this matter ... Peter had to go out and re-record "I'm Into Something Good" for inclusion in "The Naked Gun" film ... and then be careful not to make it sound TOO much like the original for fear of further scrutiny and legal actions with his one-time arch nemesis! kk)

Present day: Just when I thought life couldn’t get any better, I won tickets through to see Herman at Star Plaza in Merrillville IN.

Peter Noone, himself, donated the tickets, so I felt like I was sitting in magic seats! I arrived at 5:15 with “contest winner” written all over my face! We went to Old Chicago (not Hooters) for dinner before I came back to the box office and got my free, FAB seats! The acoustics were either perfect from where I was sitting, or Noone just never quits having the most gorrrrrrrgeous voice in the world!!!

Micky Dolenz was the opener and was in really decent voice coming off of his London gig. He was a lot better than when I saw him with Herman at a Teen Idols show in Milwaukee last November! But as I said, I am a Herman girl, so it will take a Monkees fan to do Micky justice! He put on an entertaining show, and looked fit and full of energy. Side note to Monkee fans: we could see Micky just hanging out in the lobby of the Star Plaza for about 45 minutes last night. Lots of folks went up to him and he made himself very accessible. That must be a dream come true for you guys! I just kept spinning my head around ala Linda Blair, looking for Herman, but no such luck! He knows our tricks and is wise to us!

Micky’s sister Coco sang my favorite Linda Ronstadt song, A Different Drum, but that’s meant to be a little wistful, and she took the point of view, like “sorry buddy, don’t have time for you” as the meaning. I was still thinking about this when Herman came on, and then all systems were go, and the night began.

(Okay, Kent, I’ll watch out for your guy readers. Men, leave the room.)

My big moment is always, always when Herman takes off his jacket. Off came the suit jacket, and he stood there in his white shirt, and a dark grey tie, and I could just climb all over him when I see him like that. I am younger than Peter, but l feel like a cougar to be feeling those thoughts about him, just because he looks so fabulous, so I will chill here. But wow! Every time he does Tom Jones, or pulls the pants legs up in front (who cares about the joke about the short pants, I am waaay more interested in the other effect of this gesture!), I can’t take my eyes off of him!

Every song hit the universe like it was meant to be here forever. No Milk Today was muscular, Sea Cruise was insanely good, with the hand gestures (anybody else notice how Peter sends out energy through his hands?! Whew, give me some, please.)

Listen People was pin drop beautiful. How can the same guy do Sea Cruise and Listen People, and deliver the goods on both?

Everyone stood for Henry, and speaking of standing, he regularly had people just walk up to his stage. A young girl got a kiss from him for giving him a cake (note, every single time Peter kisses anyone, anywhere, in his public life, and I note it, I am supremely aware of this fact. I can cite you every time I’ve seen it.) Woulda, could, shoulda.

He was silly funny, asking Vance where is Marie, when the joke is “where’s Donny” so thinking beyond to what the comic step should be made it a whole lot funnier for me! His charisma is unparalleled and I know lots of people with this quality, but his is bigger. (that’s what she said.)

He asked for tees and CD’s and Rich went to procure them, and Carol delivered them to the stage. One he kicked stage center, and it must have walloped someone, which was friggin’ hilarious, and lots he kicked pretty awesomely deep into the rows. I am always aware of Peter Noone as a hockey or football type which makes all Chicagoans love him.

One reveler seemed to revel too much, and I saw an ambulance later, and wondered if it was for him? Peter left the autograph line to go out there, so there’s an insider view of the character of Noone. Fans “feel” that Peter cares about us, and last night, one fan got “big time” proof positive of that.

I’ve been scanning stuff in from scrapbooks the last day or so, and so I was in a Herman state of mind when I got there. It was almost too much for me to hear those hits, and see Peter Noone. Big, big, night in magical seats. As I said, I don’t begin to write like a guy would about my entertainer, so you are stuck with this girl review.

Thank you again ... I had a wonderful night! Love you both, for giving me the tickets. Okay, actually, I only love Peter, but I thank you, Kent, for being the portal to get me to him last night!

Noone is the best performer in the world.

Bar none.

Bar NoOne.

-- Janis

Glad you had a good time ... pretty much impossible NOT to!!! (kk)


In our never-ending committment to always establish "The Most Accurate Truth" when it comes to our musical legacy, we simply could not fail to address this issue ... especially after we received this (and several other emails just like it from other show attendees):

Peter's opening act, Micky Dolenz, told a story about being invited to The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper session at Abbey Road studio in '67 (Hello MonkeeMan!). He said John pointed to George Martin, up in the booth, and said "Play him the song we've been working on", and then said "This is what I heard" ... and Micky went into "Oh! Darling."

I need more info on how this can be.

Was "Oh! Darling" a song being considered for Sgt. Pepper, but then not released until Abbey Road years later? Or did Micky confuse things, because in 1977 Robin Gibb sang this in the movie Sgt. Pepper?

Do you guys have any thoughts on this?

-- Janis

I actually heard from several of our FH Readers who were at the show last night regarding this comment from Micky. Here's the scoop ...

In 1967, The Monkees were, for all practical purposes, the "new" Beatles ... they captured the teenage market that The Beatles were leaving behind with their more sophisticated work like "Rubber Soul" and "Revolver". As The Beatles embraced the studio and all it had to offer (not to mention a deeper involvement with drugs and the musical inspirations this provided ... most of us would have NEVER suspected in a million years that our new heroes were sampling many of the same "herbs and spices"), The Monkees were who most of us remaining teens grabbed on to to still get our "pop" fix.

When The Monkees visited England in 1967, The Beatles were hard at work at what would ultimately become the "Sgt. Pepper" album ... and Micky and Mike both attended recording sessions ... photos and filmed footage of these meetings have circulated for over 40 years now.

Micky has told that Beatles story for at least the past 20 years ... but, speaking as someone who has seen him perform at least 20 times, it NEVER used to have anything to do with "Oh Darling" which, of course, came from "Abbey Road", an album The Beatles recorded a couple of years later.

Unfortunately, what used to be a great, interesting intro is now just an excuse to launch into his FABULOUS rendition of "Oh Darling" ... no doubt about it, this man can sing, and he proved it last night and every night of the recent Happy Together Again Tour ... but sadly this new comment raises the element of "inconsistency" and doubt into his performance ... as you'd be hard pressed to find an audience member that doesn't know EVERY single track on "Sgt. Pepper" by heart. (Give your audience a little more credit, Micky ... we LIVED this stuff!)

Instead, he'd be better to tell the "Sgt. Pepper" session story (which is 100% true, by the way) and then say something along the lines of "... and this whole experience inspired me to sing THIS one for you tonight" and THEN do his fantastic Beatles-tribute.

With a catalog as well known as The Beatles', ain't NOBODY gonna think "Oh Darling" came from the "Sgt. Pepper" sessions ... besides which, Paul recorded THAT track virtually by himself, something truly ate at John Lennon for the rest of his life ... making Micky's John Lennon story seem even LESS credible!!!

Micky Dolenz and Paul McCartney, circa February, 1967

For the record, Micky and Mike DID visit Jolly Ol' England in February of 1967 ... and both attended recording sessions for The Beatles' landmark "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album. In fact, Mike was at one of the sessions for "A Day In The Life", perhaps the centerpiece of the whole LP!

Micky, on the other hand, buddied up with Paul McCartney and did some "clubbing". According to well publicized reports (and using Andrews Sandoval's EXCELLENT reference book, "The Monkees: Day By Day"), Micky first met McCartney on February 6th at a London disco. McCartney then invited Dolenz back to his house in St. John's Wood in London, where he played him a couple of new tracks The Beatles had been working on. Dolenz said at the time "We just sat around listening to the tracks from his next LP and he played us 'Penny Lane' and 'Strawberry Fields.' They're both beautiful numbers, but I prefer 'Strawberry Fields' ... it's more progressive. It's the kind of music I want to do." (Micky also met his first wife, Samantha Juste, during this visit when he made a guest appearance on the popular British television show "Top Of The Pops".)

Several days later, Micky DID attend a Beatles recording session ... but it was for the Sgt. Pepper LP track "Fixing A Hole", NOT "Oh! Darling" (which wouldn't be recorded until two years later!)

On January 27th, 1969, Paul McCartney sang a little snippet of "Oh! Darling" for the very first time ... in fact, you'll find exactly one line in the film "Let It Be", which was also taping that day. The Beatles wouldn't return to this song until April 20th, where they laid down 26 "live" takes, most of which could simply be called "rehearsals". They returned to the track a couple more times but never sat down to do a proper recording.

According to Mark Lewisohn's excellent book "The Beatles Recording Sessions" (and well documented MANY times since), Paul would come into the studio alone and literally SCREAM the lyrics to "Oh! Darling" again and again and again, trying to get the right amount of "roughness" to his voice to capture the vocal the way he heard it in his head. Abbey Road Engineer (and future recording star) Alan Parsons recalls sessions held on July 17th and 18th:

"Perhaps my main memory of the 'Abbey Road' sessions is of Paul coming into studio three at two o'clock or 2:30 each afternoon, on his own, to do the vocal on 'Oh! Darling' That was a feature of the 'Abbey Road' sessions; you very rarely saw all four Beatles together. It was either John or Paul or george working on their various things, perhaps only getting together to hear something back. But Paul came in several days running to do the lead vocal on 'Oh! Darling'. He'd come in, sing it and say 'No, that's not it, I'll try it again tomorrow.'

"He only tried it once per day ... I suppose he wanted to capture a certain rawness which could only be done once before the voice changed. I remember him saying 'Five years ago, I could have done this in a flash,' referring, I suppose, to the days of 'Long Tall Sally' and 'Kansas City.'"

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Not only was Micky Dolenz not there for any of these sessions ... but none of the other BEATLES were there either!!!)

Lewisohn goes on to say:

"John Kurlander also witnessed these overdubs. 'I think Paul wanted this 'first thing in the morning' quality or maybe it was 'last thing at night.' Whatever it was, he came in early each day, an hour before anybody else, to do his piece, always replacing the previous one until he got the one he liked.'"

Further attempts were made on July 22nd and July 23rd, when Paul FINALLY nailed what became the final, released version.

Over the next eleven years, John Lennon made no secret of the fact that he was upset that Paul tackled this recording on his own ... he would have LOVED to have been on these sessions, considering it to be one of Paul's very best rockers. He once remarked in an interview "I always thought I could have done it better ... it was more my style than his. He wrote it, so what the hell, he's going to sing it."

Personally, I couldn't even imagine it any other way ... "Oh! Darling" was probably the FIRST song that REALLY grabbed me the first time I listened to "Abbey Road" all the way through ... and it's remained one of my all-time Beatles favorites ever since. Now Micky Dolenz does an INCREDIBLE job with this song ... but he was NOT there for ANY of these recording sessions. Quite honestly, by late 1969 there weren't a whole lot of people left who cared anything at all about The Monkees ... their television show had already been off the air for over a year, their records had stopped selling and the band was very quickly splitting up. During the recording dates cited for the "Oh! Darling" sessions, Dolenz was here in The States, performing live shows and working on what would become The Monkees' next LP, "Present". There is absolutely NO correlation between the "Sgt. Pepper" sessions ... that Micky really DID attend ... and this McCartney classic. (kk)