Were the Harley Davidson 100th Anniversary Open Road show a televised reality music show, the reconstituted Doors would have gone home without the highly prized recording contract (or more apropos, deserving of a new one). A recap:
Most dramatic entrance? The all-original lineup of Stone Temple Pilots, admittedly not the easiest of tasks to maintain, on Saturday edged Friday’s half-reopened Doors. (Just keyboardist Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robby Krieger were involved as drummer John Densmore is saddled with tinnitus; the Cult’s Ian Astbury played Jim Morrison, Stewart Copeland, late of the Police, drummed.)
The Pilots’ inspired take on Pink Floyd’s “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” as an opener sounded more ominous and risk-taking than the Doors’ kick-off of “Roadhouse Blues” (which, oddly, would be repeated to end their night).
Most charismatic? Again, STP’s Scott Weiland was far more compelling to watch, seemingly more in the spirit of an anguished Morrison perf, than Astbury — who appeared nervous initially and perhaps rightfully — singing Doors staples adequately and rarely engaging the aud to any lasting degree. Also more effective within the Doors’ own set was X’s John Doe reciting Morrison poetry while Native Americans danced to the group’s musical jam backdrop.
Doe even earned himself a good sport nod for guesting with Los Lobos earlier on the weekend’s requisite delivery of biker anthem “Born to Be Wild.” “Somebody’s gotta be singing this today … I guess these guys want me to take the rap,” he joked.
Most lifelike simulation? Kudos still go to Steve Augeri, uncanny understudy to Steve Perry in the role of Journey lead singer, both physically and vocally. Astbury rated a distant second in the look-alike dept.
Most popular? Always a hotly debated category, as Journey had its voluminous high-charting repertoire to rely on and relative newcomers Nickleback brought old-school crowd-pleasing flame-and-flashpot pyrotechnics to the fest. But rocker Billy Idol clearly knows what his target demo lusts after, and as such, he never fails to show ’em his hits (at least it sounded like that’s what they were asking for) with gusto.
Best costume/choreography? George Clinton and the many in Parliament/Funkadelic, hands down — or “in the air,” as is the case.
Backstage at the recent MTV VMAs, Axl Rose described the reasoning behind his long-belabored effort to reconstitute Guns N’ Roses with an entire new cast, not wanting to tarnish what had been accomplished before and yet continue on. Similarly, Manzarek, Krieger et al indeed revisited some legendary music Friday, hitting their stride with “When the Music’s Over,” but one wonders if the Doors are perhaps better off left closed, considering the next line of the song is “turn off the light.”