The Doors attracted crowds for two reasons. First and foremost, the maniacal antics of Jim Morrison and his desire to shock an audience, which eventually led to a legacy of poetic debauchery. And then there was the music.
Thursday night at The Egg’s Hart Theater, a full house got their music. Doors originals Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger have been keeping the torch alive touring on Doors music.
They tore through a Doors set list, opening with “Road House Blues,” and following with songs like “Break on Through,” “Changeling,” “Love Me Two Times,” and “Peace Frog.” Manzarek’s hypnotizing keyboards and Krieger’s fiery guitar work captured the original sound.
Morrison, played by Dave Brock, was not amazing, but he was good enough to enable the show. He didn’t dominate, nor did he try. In fact, he towed the right line between over-the-top and competently singing Morrison.
The crowd was mixed by all ages, some who probably wanted to hear and see more Jim Morrison stuff, and others who wanted to see the legendary Krieger-Manzarek duo. The show balanced both needs well.
Before playing the quintessential Doors song, “When the Music’s Over,” Manzarek said, “All right, we’re going to dedicate this to our good friend, we left him over in Paris. James Douglas Morrison.” Brock let himself get wild here. You can’t sing the song without getting nasty.
The singer had many good moments, but his most notable was early on during “Break on Through,” when he riffed some Morrison-like imagery about dead cats, dead rats, “suckin on a soldier’s brain.” Manzarek echoed the words here, whether getting into it or mocking Brock, hard to tell. Manzarek seemed to have fun saying key words over and over — Jim Morrison, the ’60s, and The Doors.
Krieger and Manzarek looked their age, and chatted like old men between the songs. But their playing was all straight-up late ’60s Doors. “L.A. Woman,” one of their best tunes, sounded good. Krieger can still play, and to his credit, didn’t feel pressure to imitate the records. He sprayed shards of familiar combo-notes, but didn’t go further. They rushed through the bridge to “L.A. Woman,” missing one of the most exciting moments on record, though near impossible to duplicate without the help of a studio.
The sound all night was about power and energy. “Peace Frog,” one of their most intricate tunes that requires a bit of finesse, was drowned by their bulldozing style, which worked for pretty much every other song.
“Everybody laughed at Jim Morrison except Ray Manzarek,” said Krieger, referring to their time when they met in UCLA.
They closed with their biggest hit, “Light My Fire.”
Forty-plus years after the original Doors — a band that lasted less than 10 years — the two originals have made a successful life from their gems. Morrison came at a specific time that might not have seen the light of day at any other time this century. Right place and right time for his radical eccentricities.
But his music was also unique. Songs like “Changeling” and “Backdoor Man” were new then, and not imitated since. You can call them blues, but his treatment was exclusive. Like so many great flashes who burned out too quickly, it would have been nice to see where his music evolved.
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