Category Archives: Concerts

Krieger is god

I first saw The Doors perform live in April of 2003. Yeah, I know, Jim Morrison died in 1971. I was born a few years later, so it’s not like I could have seen the Lizard King himself. This was as close as I could get. They, meaning Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek, two of the original four, called themselves the Doors of the 21st Century, with Ty Dennis and Angelo Barbara from Robby’s band playing drums and bass respectively, and Ian Astbury doing the vocals.

I went in with no expectations. I mostly wanted to see Robby and to hear these songs, which I had loved my entire life, played live.  Our seats were front row center of the balcony at the Tower Theater over in Upper Darby. It’s a small venue, so we weren’t far from the stage and had an unobstructed view. They were late, and the crowd in true Philly fashion started the chant of “We want the Doors!” We had been sitting there so long, I had almost forgotten who we had come to see. Finally, a picture of Jim appeared on a screen and “O Fortuna” blasted out of the speakers. Seriously, the crescendo of that opera makes for the best intro ever! Just as the cymbals crashed and horns blared, came the words “Ladies and gentlemen! From Los Angeles, California, it’s the Doors!” Pandemonium.

That performance blew me away. Ian had all the magic I imagined Jim having. Gene, having seen Jim in the 60’s, actually said that Ian was better, being sober and all. We saw them many times after that, traveling to New York, Montreal, California and even London for the shows. Most times we were in the first or second row and just a few feet away from Robby and his guitar. Wow.

A few things have changed over the past couple of years. Ian Astbury returned to his band, The Cult. Since I am a huge Cult fan, this pleases me, even though I miss him with the Doors. Ray and Robby can’t call their band any version of “The Doors” as a band name anymore thanks to a law suit from John Densmore, the original drummer. My opinion of him is best left unsaid. So now they are just “Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek of The Doors.” Densmore and his lawyers can’t take that away from them. They have a new singer, Mili Matijevic, who has a hell of a voice and a lot of charisma, if not the magic of Ian Astbury.

Saw them last night in Atlantic City, and it was a hell of a show. Best of all, I got to stand just a few feet away from Robby while he played. At one point, he and Ray were talking, and Robby’s fingers still moved absently over the strings. I guess it’s just that natural for him. Robby plays with a pick, without a pick, fingertips the strings (he did that long before Eddie VanHalen, thank you very much) and makes the fluid strumming of flamenco style seem effortless. I never get tired of watching him. He’s just that good. Together, he and Ray create a musical atmosphere and carry the audience along for the ride. After all these years, the power never fades. It’s still a “dance on fire” and an experience that I wouldn’t give up for anything.

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