Michael Nesmith at The Neptune March 30 2013
Wasn’t sure what to expect with this gig. Thought it was gonna sound like Flying Burrito Bros/Gram Parsons/late Byrds but sounded more like 1985. So 30 years old instead of 45. Guess it’s all relative. He’s got a huge cult following, all of whom turned out to hear him play, almost selling out the Neptune, giving him a standing ovation when he got on stage and a standing o when he left. He played material from all over his career (although no Monkees songs) but even the songs penned in the 60s and 70s had a distinctly 80s quality, prob due to both his song writing instincts (which favor the cheese) and the backing band, which embellished the compositions with fluorescent love. Drummer played an electronic kit (except a high hat and crash/ride cymbal) and some tracks had syncopated click track too, leaving him free to unleash fills on his toms for the entirety of the song. Keyboardist was locked into some sweet synth patches and samples. Nesmith himself played a shimmery lovely 12 string acoustic and the lead guitarist was all vintage including gorgeous pedal steel – could’ve given that pedal steel more spotlight fer my money.
His shtick was to prelude each song with a short story vignette, aka “The scene: 1967, Paris, spring. He: dapper, handsome, confident. She: a beauty, in a red dress and 5 inch heels. They were lovers but she wanted a child and he wanted his freedom…” then state the name of the song and album it came from. He stuck to this style the entire set, except a brief tangent when he made some jokes about using an iPad on stage and having his Gmail pop up during a performance.
Couple songs were real standouts, “Shelly’s Blues” was one, can’t remember the names of the others. Yeah, there were some pretty moments when it all came together: his song writing prowess, the band super tight, the flow of the song just right. Gotta give the guy props. But he didn’t wear the hat in case you were wondering.