The Sunday Review: The Doors In Concert

Sunday 23 July (2006)

this is the best live album I've ever heard

I love The Doors. They are probably most remembered these days for Jim Morrison, a flawed antihero who if he hadn’t died at such a young age – well, he’d have died a few days later instead. It undoubtedly accounts for a lot of his status as a legend anyway; he missed the inevitable decline in the 80’s when Grace Slick and so many others came undone – I mean, We Built This City… honestly. Either way, as good a frontman as he was (and really, he was the archetypal frontman) the success of The Doors is not solely down to him, and more people would do well to remember that.

This said, it must be slightly ironic that one of the reasons I think this live album is so good (so good, in fact, that it’s about the best live album I can think of) is because of Morrison’s stage presence. That man was rock and roll incarnate.

But back to Morrison later. Although the album is comprised of live tracks, it isn’t actually a single show; there are three performances which songs were selected from. Despite this, it feels like a single show, and I love the fact that the first track is dialogue (the staff of the venue, in Philadelphia, telling the crowd to sit down or the show won’t start) because it truly makes you feel like you’re listening to something that’s happening now. You’ve got the apprehension and excitement of seeing The fucking Doors and knowing that they’re seconds away from coming on stage. When the guy finally screams into the mic, ‘ladies and gentlemen, The Doors!’ you feel everyone in the room rise and cheer – and it makes you want to join in.

And then Morrison takes the mic. ‘Hey Philadelphia!’ (more cheers) ‘D’ya feel alright?’ in the most natural ‘I’m California in the sixties’ voice you’ll ever hear. And he sings, and he’s on form, and the band are really on form, and you can just imagine you’re in the audience, stoned and loving it. You can even play along at home, but probably not at your parents house. But then after a while, you start noticing strange things. Familiar tunes, but alien lyrics – strange hybrids of songs that aren’t on any albums – in other words, original stuff. All the best bands do this; The Grateful Dead made a living for forty years doing it – getting on stage and giving a one-off, absolutely unique show that you’d never hear ever again.

But then, the even better thing is whilst you’re hearing ‘Break on Through’ from the band, but the words coming out of Morrison’s mouth are:

Dead cat, dead rat
Cant you see what they were at?
Fat cat in a top hat
Thinks hes an aristocrat

And you start getting into it, and thinking ‘hey, this version is fucking great,’ then the tempo suddenly ups and he segues into ‘you know the day destroys the night…’ – suddenly, instantly, you’re back into familiar territory. It effectively doubles some of their songs by adding these bizarre and psychedelic new intros, which is awesome.

I don’t know. I think you either love The Doors, or you don’t care about them. They can be seen as just another sixties rock band from California, or they can be appreciated for their unique, very dark yet playful sound. Hell, it’s a trip in itself to listen to some of the best music in the world knowing that the guy behind the mic was drunk, stoned, ripped, twisted. That might have been the downfall of The Doors – definately the downfall of Jim Morrison – but the brightest sparks always burn out faster, don’t they?

If you fit into the first category of Doors fans, get this as soon as you can – dim the lights, get comfy, and listen to it in its entirity. This is my new benchmark for live performances.


4 Responses to “The Sunday Review: The Doors In Concert”

  1. Sally Says:

    Where would you be without me? (And lendage of Doors albums…)
    By the way I think it’s more about the music than knowing the guy singing is blown out of his mind.

  2. stan Says:

    The whole review is a paean to the music for God’s sake – I only mentioned Morrison and his drug consumption because a) he was high when these were recorded and b) the drugs (mainly alcohol) are the reason for his early death.

  3. […] die eerder verschenen op de LP’s Absolutely Live, Alive She Cried en Live at the Hollywood Bowl. The line review: “I love The Doors. They are probably most remembered these days for Jim Morrison, a […]

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