A new voice and two old hands bring fire to Doors favorites
By Steve Morse, Boston Globe, 4/26/2003
Sometimes a show jumps up and surpasses expectations. A perfect example was last night’s Doors reunion, which could have been a hard sell because of the late singer/rock-icon-supreme Jim Morrison’s absence. But new
singer Ian Astley stepped up remarkably well and, helped by original Doors Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger, made this an event to savor.
Astley, whose booming vocals have been a staple of the psychedelic hard-rock band the Cult, appeared completely comfortable in the role of Morrison. From the stage regalia of sunglasses and leather jacket, to the blistering, leather-lunged belting, Astley fit the bill incredibly. He had some trouble on the moody side of the Doors repertoire (he seemed a bit tame on “When the Music’s Over”), but on the rock tunes, he excelled. On the vintage “Roadhouse Blues” and “L.A. Woman,” he reached transcendent levels that had old-school Doors fans shaking their heads. (Full disclosure: I saw the original Doors twice – once at the now-defunct Crosstown Bus in Brighton, where Morrison chugged Southern Comfort and young women danced in go-go cages next to tinfoil-covered walls, and once
at Meehan Auditorium in Providence, a tamer show by comparison).
Last night was tame from a behavioral point of view (Astley didn’t ingest anything), but not tame musically. The Doors rocked for two hours and 15 minutes, hitting nearly every highlight from their ’60s heyday (“Back Door Man,” “Crystal Ship,” “Light My Fire,” “Peace Frog,” and “Soul Kitchen” helped take the night home), but the group also debuted a new song, “Cops Talk” (written by Jim Carroll of “Basketball Diaries” fame), that fit in nicely and featured Astley and Manzarek trading lead vocals that had a street-rap edge.
The video montages also brought back the highs and lows of the ’60s, from footage of a happy Morrison on a beach to turbulent images of police brutality during the Civil Rights struggle, and shots of abused Native Americans shown during “Wild Child.” The Doors had a film school background in Los Angeles, so it was appropriate to see that side of the band carried on. And kudos to the Brotherhood of Love, a San Francisco company that helped put together the video and the arresting light show that was like a psychedelic experience revisited.
Concert highlights included several intense instrumental solos between Manzarek and Krieger (who also played some flamenco guitar to great effect). One forgets just how talented the rest of the band was, since Morrison usually got all the credit. And new backup musicians Ty Dennis on drums (he played with the Motels) and Angelo Barbera on bass were worthy additions to the Doors fold.
Manzarek said the group was working on an album for release this year. It might be a hope beyond hope to think it could rival their old work, but based on the concert last night, there should be no shortage of momentum.
This story ran on page B6 of the Boston Globe on
4/26/2003. © Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.