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Doors - Wembley Arena, London, 11/12/2003

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 30 / 12 / 2003

Doors - Wembley Arena, London, 11/12/2003


The Doors recently controversially reformed with former Cult frontman Ian Astbury taking the place of Jim Morrison. In wet conditions, and at his least favourite UK venue, Anthony Strutt has "the best night" of his life

I arrive at my least favourite U.K. venue on a cold December Thursday night. Above the entrance is a big poster that doesn't really give this evening's entertainment justice. I get there at 5pm, one and a half hours before doors open as two friends and fellow fans have given me their tickets to sell. After befriending a tout, I manage to get £35 for the pair, the actual cost of one ticket. It seemed like a good deal at the time, but I later found out he sold them for £40 each at the last minute to two drunk lads. Inside the massive venue, Magic FM is being piped through the airwaves. I pass by the merchandise stall and plan on buying most of it and buy nothing. Nothing tonight bears the image of Jim Morrison at all. Inside I find my seat and the venue very slowly fills. As drinks are drunk, punters start getting rowdy. Jim would be pleased.I myself feel a bit weird, something like you do the first time you have sex, the first time you smoke a joint, or the first time you go to a proper gig. It's no surprise really. Tonight's gig doesn't feature some-been-around-the-block indie band, but the Doors. The fucking Doors, man!!!!! At tonight's show only two of the original members, keyboardist Ray Manazarek and guitarist Robby Kreiger, are present. John Densmore, the original drummer, didn't want to do it. And Jim of course is absent without a decent sick note. As I wait for showtime to start, I see Robby Krieger at the side of the stage.I do not run to get his signature as he has signed my whole Doors CD collection already. I stare towards the stage which is pretty bare. There's a few amps and PAs, a keyboard which is not Ray Manzarek's usual 60's instrument, and a large drum kit, upon which the bass drum bears the letters "D21C". At 8.20pm, without a support slot by anyone, a guy in a parka, possibly Doors biographer Danny Sugarman, wanders on stage and says "From Los Angeles...the Doors." The lights go down. Church-like dark intro music starts and everyone is immediately up out of their seats amidst loud cheers and ready to rock. Ray is on the left, while Robbie is on the right and Ian Astbury from the Cult, wearing a cool L.A. 60's style jacket, is in the middle. Robbie picks up his guitar and a so familiar riff cuts through the air as Ian, who has taken Jim's place on vocals, sings "When I woke up this morning and I got myself a beer" the opening line of 'Roadhouse Blues'. The first 4 songs fly by consisting of 'Roadhouse Blues', 'Break on Through', and the long versions of 'When The Music's Over' and Alabama Song'. These first 4 songs last forty minutes. 'Alabama Song' is sung by Ian, Robbie and Ray and works well, while'Break on Through' is sung as a duet between Ray and Ian. After 'Break on Through' Ray, speaking to the audience, asks us how we have managed to make magic mushrooms legal in Britain. So Ray's still a hippy and proud of it. This is very much a 60's show, but which uses the technology of the 21st century. After 'When the Music's Over" both Ray and Robbie tell us we "are the best motherfucking audience of the tour". Ian does an excellent job, but he flicks at times from being Jim to being Ian at times, which is hard for some of the doubters of the audience. I personally find it wonderful, but it takes me the first couple of songs to believe I'm really seeing the Doors. From 'Alabama Song' onwards, however, I'm totally lost in the music. The songs played have a great feel about them and are updated to even include an unplugged section which features an acoustic 'People are Strange' and 'Crystal Ship'. This leads into the only non Doors piece which has Robby playing a solo flamenco piece and, of course, leads into 'Spanish Caravan'. Following this there is a segment which is done in tribute to Jim,the only time he is mentioned during the evening. "This is a section of songs we like to play for Jim from L.A. Woman as we never got to take them out to play live" says Ray. 9 out of the next 10 songs are beautifully played in a tribute to that, Jim's final album of '71. Both 'L.A.Woman' and a stunning 'Riders on the Storm' are just perfect, but by the time they play 'When the Music's Over' I am crying . They encore after 2 hours with 'Not to Touch the Earth' and 'Wild Child' before launching into 'Light My Fire' which. of course, goes on forever as it should and then they are gone, at 11pm after setting foot on stage at 8.20pm. My jacket is very wet, and I am exhausted. House lights come on and we depart only for the band to rejoin us and I run down the front and we all mosh to 'Soul Kitchen' and that is it, the best night of my life. Cheers, Ray, Robbie, Ian and Jim. Set List : Roadhouse Blues Break on Through When the Music's Over Alabama song(Whisky Bar) Back Door Man 5 to 1 Crystal Ship(Acoustic) People are Strange(Acoustic) Robbie Flamenco Solo Spanish Caravan The Changeling Love Her Madly Been Down So Long Peace Frog Riders on the Storm The Wasp(Texas Radio and the Big Beat) Hyacinth House Tell All the People Crawling King Snake L.A.Woman Encores Not to Touch the Earth Wild Child Light My Fire Soul Kitchen

Picture Gallery:-
Doors - Wembley Arena, London, 11/12/2003

Doors - Wembley Arena, London, 11/12/2003

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