×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Doors of the 21st Century

With third surviving member John Densmore taking them to court, Krieger and Manzarek (along with the Cult's Ian Astbury) are now billing themselves as "The Doors of the 21st Century." With a setlist and cheesy staging that wouldn't have been out of place when the band released "L.A. Woman" in 1971, a more accurate title would be "The Doors of the 20th Century: A Re-creation."

With:
Band: Ray Manzarek, Robbie Krieger, Ian Astbury, Ty Dennis, Angelo Barberi.

Whatever you might think of Robbie Krieger and Ray Manzarek, just don’t call them “The Doors.” With third surviving member John Densmore taking them to court, Krieger and Manzarek (along with the Cult’s Ian Astbury) are now billing themselves as “The Doors of the 21st Century.” Ignoring the fact that this unwieldy moniker sounds less like the name of a rock band than a show on the House and Garden channel, it’s also a misnomer. With a setlist and cheesy staging that wouldn’t have been out of place when the band released “L.A. Woman” in 1971, a more accurate title would be “The Doors of the 20th Century: A Re-creation.”

But even that wouldn’t be quite right; a certain amount of historical revisionism was on tap at the Universal Amphitheater Friday night. As might be expected, the impression you come away with is that Manzarek and Krieger were the Doors’ driving force, the band’s truly essential members. Morrison, although he was the superstar front man (and the first image flashed on the video screen), comes across as merely a useful idiot. His good looks and moody lyrics were the Doors’ meal ticket, but, hey, he’s replaceable. Densmore, on the other hand, has been turned into a non-person, expunged from the band’s history with a Stalin-like ruthlessness. It’s an argument not completely without merit: Manzarek’s keyboards, mixing postwar blues and Weimar cabaret, and Krieger’s liquid, Wes Montgomery-influenced guitar gave the Doors a musical signature, and their improvisational flights were among the evening’s highlights.

The rhythm section of Angelo Barberi and Ty Dennis (the band’s second drummer in less than a month; maybe they’re also trying to be the Spinal Tap of the 21st century) performed ably.

Astbury, whose work with the Cult showed him to be a singer distinctly in the Morrison mold, steps into the breech with an admirable confidence. It’s the role he was born to play. He pored over the films and studied the band’s playbook and has all the moves down — from Morrison’s phrasing, to his little hop step dance, his leap during “When the Music’s Over” and the way he held the mikestand.

Manzarek and Krieger keep him on a short leash, and his performance never becomes more than an impressive act of mimicry. With his set jaw and poker-faced seriousness, the sly humor and headstrong brinkmanship that made Morrison a complex, involving presence is beyond him.

Without it, Astbury sounds downright silly intoning Morrison’s more self-consciously poetic lyrics (especially those of “Horse Latitudes,” with its invocation of equine “mute nostril agony”). The evening’s low point comes when he is asked to recite one of Morrison’s poems, “Ghost Dance.” He’s not helped by the flaccid cocktail jazz that accompanies the recitation; when the band is joined by a group of dancing Native American shamans, the specter of self-parody that was hovering in the wings most of the evening takes center stage.

Moments such as this make it clear why these Doors didn’t stray from the band’s classic hits. “Moonlight Ride,” Five to One” (which was accompanied by a video montage of political figures, including Nixon, Mao and LBJ, making it clear that like generals, the Doors are fighting the last war), and “Roadhouse Blues” were given straightforward readings, and retain their power; they’re prime examples of classic rock. The medley of Brecht/Weill’s “Alabama Song” and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Back Door Man” (heard on 1970’s “Absolutely Live”) is reprised; it’s still the band’s most audacious musical leap. But a revamped “Strange Days,” which turns the original’s eerie lysergic paranoia into an ungainly galloping tango, was tepidly received.

This doesn’t bode well for the band’s plan to record a new album. But then, they kept any new material under wraps; the two-hour show was less a concert than dinner theater rock, an exercise in empty nostalgia without the original cast. When they were looking for a new name, perhaps Manzarek and Krieger should have opted for Dormant.

The Doors of the 21st Century

Universal Amphitheater; 6,250 seats; $125 top

Production: Presented by House of Blues Concerts. Reviewed Feb. 7, 2003.

Cast: Band: Ray Manzarek, Robbie Krieger, Ian Astbury, Ty Dennis, Angelo Barberi.

More Music

  • Britney Spears

    Britney Spears' Fans Demand Release of Pop Star from Psychiatric Facility

    A group of protesters gathered outside City Hall in West Hollywood on Monday afternoon (April 22) to demand the release of pop star Britney Spears from a psychiatric facility. Carrying “Free Britney” signs and chanting “Hands off, Britney” and “Justice for Britney” about a dozen fans took to the corner of Santa Monica Blvd. and [...]

  • Arista Records Names Danny Cooper Senior

    Arista Records Names Danny Cooper Senior VP of Promotion

    Danny Cooper has been named senior vice president of promotion at Arista Records, it was announced today by John Boulos, the label’s executive VP of promotion. In this role, Cooper will work closely with Boulos in all areas of promotion across genres, and oversee Arista’s promotion staff throughout the U.S. He is based in Los [...]

  • Mandatory Credit: Brian J Ritchie/Hotsauce, Editorial

    Lizzo Reveals Summer-Fall Tour Dates

    Hot on the heels of her Nice Life/Atlantic Records debut album “Cuz I Love You” (which got a rave review in Variety last week) and her two Coachella performances, Lizzo has announced dates for a huge North American tour, billed “Cuz I Love You Too.” Produced by Live Nation, the tour begins July 18 in Portland, [...]

  • Delta Air Lines celebrates Grammy Weekend

    Halsey, Jonas Brothers, Zedd to Headline iHeartMedia Wango Tango Concert

    Jonas Brothers, Halsey, 5 Seconds of Summer, Zedd, Ally Brooke (with special guest Tyga), Ava Max, Fletcher and Tomorrow X Together will perform at iHeartMedia’s annual Wango Tango concert at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Los Angeles (formerly StubHub Center) on June 1. Freeform will broadcast a 90-minute television special on Friday, June 7 [...]

  • Nick Jonas, Joe Jonas, Kevin JonasJonas

    Jonas Brothers Set Their First Album in a Decade for June

    Coming 10 years almost to the week after their previous studio album, the Jonas Brothers’ “Happiness Begins” has been set for a June 7 release. A date for their full-length comeback has been eagerly anticipated by fans ever since the near-surprise March 1 release of “Sucker,” a single that has just reached No. 1 on [...]

  • Prince Memoir, ‘The Beautiful Ones,’ to

    Prince Memoir, ‘The Beautiful Ones,’ to Be Released in October

    The memoir Prince was working on at the time of his death is coming out Oct. 29, according to the Associated Press. Publisher Random House confirmed Monday that “The Beautiful Ones” will combine Prince’s unfinished manuscript with rare photos, scrapbooks and lyrics. Announced just weeks before his 2016 death, the 288-page book, issued in partnership [...]

  • TV Review: ‘Motown 60: A Grammy

    TV Review: ‘Motown 60: A Grammy Celebration’

    If nothing else, CBS’ “Motown 60: A Grammy Celebration” special alerted America to the continued vitality of Smokey Robinson as a contemporary performer. Ten months from turning 80, the singer’s performances were focused and controlled as he weaved his sultry vocals through classics he wrote — the ballads “The Tracks of My Tears” and “Ooh Baby Baby,” chief among them. Producers [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content