California Speedway, Fontana, CA September 6, 2002
I cannot believe it’s all over! I have been waiting since February for this show, that’s when I was first tipped off that a special and wonderful Doors event would occur on September 6th .. and better yet, that no out-of-town travel would be necessary!
Security entering the CA Speedway was ample, and thorough to the extent of searching purses, bags, etc. I was asked if I had any guns, which seemed to be their focus. It would’ve been a looooong hike back to the car if I’d had to take my weapons back to the car! :=) There was also a metal detector to go through. There was no security resistance to bringing in cameras or recorders.
The weather turned out to be perfect. It has been brutally hot in SoCal recently. We had some odd, scattered non-seasonal showers the day before and day of the show. Weather reports for Fontana had included scattered thunderstorms for September 6th, which would have been interesting karma … Riders On The Storm … but that was a hassle we did not have to deal with. We were blessed with a comfortable cloud covering which provided a very pleasant air temperature. It didn’t even get cold after sundown, although we were in the foothills of the mountains.
Los Lobos was already on stage when we arrived; the schedule indicates they began at 5:00 and played until 6:30.
Earl Scruggs took the stage at 7:00 through 8:30. I missed band introductions (if there were any), but I am certain that it was stellar guitarist Albert Lee on stage with the band.
At 9:00 as the audience was restlessly chanting for The Doors, the Harley-Davidson officials and family members came out and did some talking about their year-long 100th anniversary event. They also introduced a young girl with muscular dystrophy … apparently H-D has been a long-time corporate sponsor for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
The stage was about 12 feet high and very large, so the band was going to have lots of room to move, and would easily be visible to everyone there. There were also giant screens on both sides, and the young lion photo of Jim with 1943-1971 below it, was projected on both screens.
FINALLY, at 9:10 without any fanfare, Angelo and Ray and the others strolled to their stage positions and the audience erupted. Jim Ladd came out and did a brief intro, and – just as he did at the House of Blues show on Tuesday afternoon – he asked: Is everybody in? Is everybody in? Is everybody in? The ceremony is about to begin. Ladies and Gentlemen, from Los Angeles, California … The Doors
With those famous words we were treated to Robby’s opening chords to Roadhouse Blues, and a major sing-along was underway! Robby was dressed in green camouflage pants and a white t-shirt with a picture of someone I didn’t recognize (as usual!).
They plowed directly into Break On Through, with some ‘Dead Cats, Dead Rats’ thrown in.
Ian was dressed in black jeans and a black long sleeved shirt with black embroidery on its back. He had a music stand by the microphone, as he did on Tuesday, but he appeared fully confident with the lyrics as he performed. He looked pretty darn good, with his hair longish – over his ears – curly, wavy and tousled!
With no time wasted, Ray began the opening chords to When The Music’s Over on Alesis keyboards. Ray wore a light colored long sleeved shirt over a white knit shirt. I love to watch Ray play, with his head rocking back and forth in time to the music. Ian really nailed this song … it was right on! Stewart did all the ‘right things’ too … he was true to the Densmore drumming style. No complaints here, he was fantastic back there on those drums!
Love Me Two Times was the next song, with great musical interplay between Robby and Ray. This was followed by Alabama Song (Whisky Bar) which segued into Back Door Man. Next came Five To One. At the end of that song were the band introductions … Ian introduced Stewart Copeland and Angelo Barbera; Ray introduced Ian.
Strange Days followed, with its new, updated “middle eastern” introduction and overall sound. I confess to liking the new treatment of this song, alot. And there is a burning guitar at the end of the song. There was a psychedelic light show projected behind them for this song.
I glanced at my watch and noticed it was 10:00 already. Damn, only one hour to go, but literally dozens of songs I still hoped to hear!
Next, Ray introduced John Doe of X, who came out to read some of Jim’s poetry as Ian disappeared from the stage. With musical accompaniment as on American Prayer, John recited Awake / Ghost Song / The Hill Dwellers. The surprise was two Indians in native American costumes dancing around on stage during the entire performance. I did not clearly catch Ray’s introductions at the end of the number, but I believe he identified them as Navajo Indians.
John left the stage, and the opening notes of Love Street delighted us. The song ended with a solo, tinkly keyboard outro, very similar to what Steve Bach has been doing with that song at Robby Krieger Band shows.
Robby slipped the bottleneck on his finger, which signaled to me that Moonlight Drive would follow. Ian recited Horse Latitudes at the end of Moonlight Drive, and then the band went right into Wild Child. We were too close to easily see the giant screens on each side of the stage, but during this song I glanced up and saw portions of the Wild Child video being projected.
Ray mentioned that it was almost fall, and introduced a song from Venice, California … leading into a beautiful Summer’s Almost Gone with Robby on bottleneck again.
Next came Robby’s blistering guitar work signaling we were being treated to L.A. Woman … WOO HOO! That song ROCKED. At the end of the song, Ian asked if that was any way to behave at a rock & roll concert! I don’t know if he was responding to something he saw in the audience, or if he was just being relevant. Ian said this was “so new”, and thanked everyone for coming and supporting this.
Ray said we were there for the debut of The Doors for the 21st Century, then introduced Robby Krieger on guitar, Ian Astbury on lead vocals, Stewart Copeland on drums, Angelo Barbera handling all the bottom, and himself.
Straight into Light My Fire, which lasted ten minutes. Just like in days of old, the vocalist left the stage when that middle ride began and the musicians went into their hypnotic grooves. OH MY GAWD. Robby strolled around the stage as he played, sharing those special musical moments with Ray, Angelo, and Stewart. Some Eleanor Rigby was tossed in, as Robby came to the edge of the stage to give everyone a good look at his incredible guitar playing style. Ian returned to the stage to wrap up the song, and — bless him — at least he can hit those final, crucial notes that Scott Stapp failed so miserably on during Storytellers.
It was now 10:40 p.m., we knew it was almost over. The band left the stage briefly, and the audience was wildly chanting WE WANT DOORS. They returned to the stage amid sound effects of thunder, to launch into a lengthy and haunting Riders On The Storm.
One more surprise treat: Ray’s introduction of Robby’s son Waylon, along with birthday wishes. Waylon’s birthday was the previous day. Waylon stood on the far right side of the stage, next to his proud Pop, and shyly waved and acknowledged the crowd’s applause and pleasure. Robby announced that for those who arrived late, they were going to play Roadhouse Blues again, which was led off by Waylon’s guitar. Another sing-along!
And then, the worst possible thing happened …. IT WAS OVER. It was 11:00. Finis. No Mas. The End. There were crowd chants for more, but the roadies swarming the stage to begin the breakdown made it clear there would be no more. The security guys also made it abundantly clear that it was time to leave!
This show WAS special. Sure, John wasn’t there and we missed his presence terribly …. but if you closed your eyes and listened, you wouldn’t have known it was someone else. Stewart Copeland was clearly a perfect choice to fill in for John’s very unique drumming style.
Ian isn’t Jim and never could be, but more important, isn’t trying to be. I’ve never particularly been a Cult fan, but Ian did a fully terrific job. He was not in black leather. He did not do Jim’s slinky moves and dances … instead, he did Ian’s moves! He was energetic and exciting to watch. He covered the entire stage, from end to end. He jumped, danced, and did HIS OWN interpretations of the music. Angelo stayed in the background, chugging away like he does. He must be sooooo thrilled and honored to be a part of this.
During the long walk out, I did not hear a single complaint about the show. Everyone within earshot or who we spoke to, was totally blown away by the performance, and more than satisfied with Ian’s performance. The Doors are back in the 21st Century. Hopefully the footage will result in a DVD so that everyone can experience this.
written with renewed enthusiasm & love, September 7, 2002
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