Friday, September 18, 2015

The Doors: "Live In Boston"

I was surprised to see this one when it came out. Not only as a full show, but that they had played two shows that night...and it was a show where (as I had read in a few books about them) the hall managers had pulled the plug on them, mid-song. That alone was going to be worth the price of admission, so I got it.

The first thing you notice right away is that Jim Morrison is drunk. I mean, falling-down drunk, with sloppy and slurry yells as soon as he hits the microphone, but lets rip with a scream as they go into "Roadhouse Blues". And then he actually turns in a coherent show, in spite of his condition, although he slurs one word during "Ship Of Fools" and changes the entire meaning of it: "The human waste was dying out!".

And he's not without some humor during the show. In the middle of "When The Music's Over", he makes a joke out of a long-standing accusation that he'd whipped it out onstage in Miami the year before. He half-sings "What would you do with it?" to the girls in the audience, and then asks it again a little more serious this time. After hearing some yells and some suggestions, he cracks, "I think I'll pass!".

For the second show, they'd started a bit late (which did them no favors, as we shall soon hear!), but sounded like the band was ready to give it another go, although Jim was still a few sails into the wind. He gets through the first few opening songs without incident...but as soon as they hit "Five To One", something odd happens. It's as if not only the band is hit with a wave of newfound energy, but Jim actually seems to sober up a little bit, and puts a whole lot more into his performance.

The performance of "Light My Fire" that kicks of Disc 3 is well worth the price of admission. Not only is it inspired, with Ray Manzarek playing a lengthy keyboard solo, but it makes a couple of references to "Summertime". After Robby Krieger's solo, Jim directs the band to cool down and stop altogether, and then he sings some of "St. James Infirmary" a capella, and recites the "Graveyard Poem" (later insterted into another version of the song on Alive, She Cried). They then plow into the final verse of the song, which is spoiled by Jim singing into the mic with his hand over it (or something), but--wow, what a rendition of the song!

One little-mentioned aspect of these later-era shows is that Ray played some of the bluesier numbers on the guitar, while Robby played an actual bass guitar; in this format, they usually played "Maggie Magill", "Been Down So Long" and a loose encore of "Roadhouse Blues"...which is what they just swing into, and then the plug gets pulled on them. The crowd jeers, Jim goes on a rant about "these cocksuckers!" pulling the plug on them, there's more booing, and the band has no choice but to pack it in for the night. It sounds like chairs being tossed onto the stage after they've left.

All in all, an interesting ride. Maybe not a great starting point for newbies, or for anyone who's never heard their live stuff, but an interesting listening experience.

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