Doors show goes on despite legal woes
By Kevin O’Hare, Staff Writer, The Republican
WALLINGFORD, Conn. – Their reunion is turning into a legal nightmare, but that hasn’t stopped the 21st century version of The Doors from delivering a show that far exceeded expectations.
Blatantly tampering with rock ‘n’ roll history, The Doors nevertheless turned in a devastatingly powerful performance before a delirious crowd of more than 4,000 fans at the careerbuilder.com Oakdale Theatre Monday
The Doors without Jim Morrison?
It’s strange and bizarre without a doubt, but nearly 32 years after the singer’s death, original Doors’ guitarist Robbie Krieger and keyboardist Ray Manzarek are back on the road. They’ve teamed with former Cult singer
Ian Astbury, bassist Angelo Barbera, and drummer Ty Dennis for a series of shows, including a brief East Coast swing that brought them to the Oakdale.
The decision to reform The Doors has sparked several lawsuits. According to Billboard Magazine, the group is currently being sued by former Doors’ drummer John Densmore, who is not on this tour. They’re also being sued by former Police drummer Stewart Copeland, who was initially expected to take over for Densmore on the tour. As of last week, they’re also the subject of lawsuits filed by the estates of Morrison and his wife, Pam Courson on grounds that they’ve “wrongfully misappropriated” the band’s name and logo, among other things.
That sure sounds like plenty of headaches for Manzarek and Krieger but it didn’t seem to faze them on Monday. Manzarek in particular seemed to get a real kick out of playing so close to New Haven, the site of Morrison’s infamous on-stage arrest in December of 1967. The singer was arrested during a show at the New Haven Arena, reportedly for using obscene language on stage. Those charges were later dropped.
“The last time we were in this area, Jim got in deep … ,” said Manzarek to raucous laughter and howls from the crowd. “Blood in the streets in the town of New Haven,” he said, quoting from a Doors’ song that referred to the event, “Peace Frog.”
The current legal action is unfortunate, because if anything, it seems like the reincarnated Doors are only enhancing their legacy.
Astbury was the perfect choice to take on Morrison’s role, as he proved frequently during the band’s 21-song, two-hour and 15 minute performance. Wearing sunglasses and a black leather jacket, he even physically resembled the late singer. But more importantly, he did a magnificent job with the vocals, starting with the opening song “Roadhouse Blues.”
There was no shortage of classics in the set list, from a wild “Break on Through (To The Other Side),” and “Back Door Man,” to a show-stopping “Five to One,” and a blazing “L.A. Woman.” Astbury’s ability to hit the deep notes, as well as the roaring raspy top end of the rockers, suited the songs amazingly well.
Yet it was arguably Krieger who stole the show, thanks to his consistently brilliant guitar playing. Bending notes, and letting his fingers dance on the frets during “When The Music’s Over,” he took the song straight over the top, and also turned in a superb slide solo on “Moonlight Drive.” Later he showed off his flamenco guitar artistry on one of the Doors’ most underrated gems, “Spanish Caravan.”
The band did preview two new songs from an album they’re hoping to release later this year, which will feature their music along with lyrics by the likes of Jim Carroll, Henry Rollins and Michael McClure. One of the songs, “Cops Talk,” was very good, quite in keeping with the band’s style. The other, “American Express,” was sung by Manzarek, a voodoo travelogue of sorts, not bad, but not up their earlier standards.
Other highlights of the concert included an “unplugged” pairing of “Crystal Ship,” and “People Are Strange,” and a hypnotic finale of “Light My Fire,” which found Krieger shining once again, improvising a solo that played off the original, while also incorporating musical quotes from “Eleanor Rigby,” and “My Favorite Things.”
The night ended with the double-barreled encore of the ever-haunting, “Riders on the Storm,” and the expected homage to New Haven, “Peace Frog.”