The Doors Live in West Palm Beach

By Tokemaster General, Contributor
Sunday, June 8, 2003 @ 2:20 PM

The Doors Live at the Sound Ad

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REVIEW BY: Mad Mad Mike

Memorial Day weekend started in South Florida with gray skies and persistent thunder, lightning and downpours. The windshield wipers kept beat to the radio's songs during most of the 70-mile trip up the Florida Turnpike to the Sound Advice Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach to see the 21st Century Doors on May 24th.

Last time Jim Morrison appeared in Florida, he was arrested for whipping out his 'oscar' to the crowd. This time, as the setting sun crept under the clouds to the west, he produced a prism from his leather pants pocket and let a ray of light shine through that flashed a momentary rainbow that was quickly overtaken by evening gray.

The cavernous amphitheatre was nowhere near full. People stayed away for 2 reasons: bad weather, which hindered walk-up sales, and the outrageous price of tickets. The 4000 who attended, however, were treated to a most excellent experience, as Cult hero Ian Astbury fronted one of the most celebrated bands in rock and roll history.

The show started at 8:30 and ended at 11:00. In between those 2 hours, a joyous ceremony happened. The rhythms were tribal most times, exuberant at others. The true relevance of this 'Doors thing' becomes obvious in the live setting: The music has indeed transcended the decades and generations. These 35 year old songs are fully alive and do deserve to be seen and heard today.

Make no mistake: this reunion could not have happened with anyone but Ian Astbury in front. Imitation being the most sincere form of flattery, Ian has the look, the swagger, the moves, the hauntingly similar profile, the voice and the charisma to do the unenviable job of 'being' Jim Morrison, yet being himself.

A large backdrop projecting psychedelic visual accompaniment accented a setlist of timeless hits. "Whiskey Bar" had 1930's era can-can dancers playing on screen, and the beat to "5 to 1" was matched to goose-stepping Nazi soldiers and visuals of 50 years of bad-guy dictators and politicians: Hussein, Hitler, Amin, Nixon. The songs demanded that you move your feet and sing along. Ray Manzarek must have read past show reviews. He seldom spoke during this show, other than to say 'Thanks.' No rants, no hoo-rah.

The stunner came at the point in the show where, as throughout the tour, there had been a reading of Morrison's poetry accompanied by seven costumed Indian eagles prancing about the stage. Tonight, there were two barstools brought out next to Ray Manzarek's keyboard. Ian and Robbie Krieger sat down, and together the three members of the Doors played "The Crystal Ship" and "People Are Strange." It was Ian, Robbie, Ray, and the spirit of a poet who punched out before his time, performing in the simplest of forms, bringing goosebumps and thrills to a delighted crowd.

During the encore, "Soul Kitchen," there must have been 75 people onstage, a gathering of fans from kids to grandparents, all dancing behind a sweat-drenched Ian Astbury, who helped all who wanted to join in to get up and onto the stage.

This tour is not a reincarnation, nor is it a resurrection. It is, truly, about the music. Jim Morrison himself sang, "Music is your special friend," and the music is still great after all these years. The show was mostly authentic. Missing was the unpredictable volatility of Morrison's ever-changing onstage mood. Havoc was never a note away, and that lack of tension was the difference. There was almost too much joy.

The legacy of the Doors is a catalog of excellent songs with poetic lyrics and catchy rhythms and hooks. The band is preparing to drop a new record in the fall. If the songs on it are not up to the high expectations set by themselves 3 decades ago, their credibility may be soiled, and this tour will be seen in history as nothing more than a money grabbing additional 15 minutes of fame. Let's see what happens next.

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