Friday, March 16, 2018


I'm sure if The Doors had known this was the last concert of theirs that would ever be filmed, they would have brought more than the one red light illuminating them throughout this set. Of course, how were they to know they'd only play two more gigs before Jim Morrison left for Paris, and his demise. Also, they didn't know the deal at the Isle of Wight was that each band was responsible for their own lighting, so they just borrowed a red one, and had the festival's follow-spot to cut through the 2 a.m. gloom. Actually, the red gives the whole thing a spooky aura, fitting for The Doors, and the overall mood of their performance.

This was not a happy time for the group, with Morrison on trial for obscenity in Miami, nobody willing to book them in the U.S., and their immediate future bleak. Morrison had entered the beard phase, and clearly is not interested in causing a ruckus that night, barely moving from behind his mic, singing with his eyes closed for much of it, and letting the band try to make up the energy. Funny though, even this version of Morrison is still captivating, and he still manages to come alive at the right times to howl in Break On Through. If you couldn't see his face, like most of the 600,000 festival-goers, you'd have heard a really good show. The Blu-ray viewer has to wonder if he's stoned or drunk from his face, but really, he doesn't sound it.

The show does drag though, because of the long jams added to everything. There are just seven songs, but the set lasts over an hour. That's an awful lot of Robby Krieger soloing, never the best guitar player of the era, a time when everybody felt the need to ramble on. With nobody moving much, the viewer is left with the feeling they've entered a practice hall, not a live show. It also speaks volumes that this August 1970 show is based around their debut album from three years before, with the big four cuts from then featured: Light My Fire, Break On Through, Back Door Man and The End. Only Roadhouse Blues and Ship Of Fools are played from the just-released Morrison Hotel, with When The Music's Over the other number. It feels very much like they're doing what they have to do so people will feel like satisfied.

The sound is great though. Original Doors engineer Bruce Botnick has done a shiny 5.1 mix, and the film has been expertly restored, probably looking better than it ever has. A feature called This Is The End has been added, which explains the whole Miami incident in clips from the other three members, some new, some of the old Ray Manzarek stuff. The Isle of Wight show happened just after the trial started, Morrison still possibly going to prison, so no wonder he was subdued. It's good to have the context, I'd actually advise watching it first, before the live show.

Are there better Doors shows and videos available? Oh you bet, but with these important bands, we're now at the point where it's important to have the history. As John Densmore says, "Since he checked out at 27, it's precious footage."

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