The first reports, and video are coming out of Los Angeles about last night’s Ray Manzarek Celebration concert. Manzarek died in 2013 of bile duct cancer and the surviving members of The Doors, Robby Krieger and John Densmore have been trying to put together a memorial concert for Manzarek ever since and it came to fruition last night on what would have been Manzarek’s 77th birthday.
The show, and at times, the stage was crowded with special guests playing instruments or singing. At times the band was composed of Krieger (all of the show), Densmore played only on some songs because of tinnitus saying, “I blew my ears out bashing those cymbals.” Taylor Hawkins, Stephen Perkins, John Doe, Exene Cervenka, Annika Rose, Phil Chen, Robert DeLeo, Emily Armstrong, Andrew Wyatt, Warren Haynes, Waylon Krieger, Jim Manczarek, Henry Diltz taking photographs, and Rami Jaffee sitting in on keyboards most of the night for Manzarek.
The show was a two set show that lasted close to three hours with a pre-show slideshow of photographs of Manzarek at various periods of his career backed by a soundtrack from Carmina Burana. The show was introduced by Pablo Manzarek, a musician himself. Which for some reason he didn’t participate musically in the program. The songs covered were most of The Doors most well known songs, including Break on Through with a very 60’s opening light show, a sedate Riders on the Storm with John Doe on vocals, People are Strange which featured Annika Rose of the band Breaking 27 which Krieger thought was a very cool name for a band, Alabama Song and Love Me Two Times which Taylor Hawkins dedicated to both Jim Morrison and David Bowie (Bowie covered Whisky Bar too). The show was opened with Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule handling the vocals on When the Music’s Over, his voice sounding a little too refined and melodious for that particular song, and the finale with just about all the performers crowding the stage for Light My Fire. One song that seems to have stuck out in every one’s mind was L.A. Woman because of Andrew Wyatt’s Morrison-esque histrionics and a bit of crowd surfing (see the video at the top of this article).
Since Manzarek’s death, talk of a tribute concert has been talked about by Krieger and Densmore. Krieger seems to have been the driving factor behind the show and in the past he’s talked about trying to get together some high profile keyboard players who were contemporaries of Manzarek’s or influenced by him. Unfortunately, that didn’t come together in this iteration. Another oversight is the lack of any music from Manzarek’s solo career except for the already mentioned Carmina Burana, and that may be because of the short gestation period, reportedly the show was put together in just a couple of weeks. Undoubtedly fans were there to hear Doors songs, but perhaps a tribute to Manzarek should have included a few things which fans may not have been all that familiar with and would have had the chance to discover. As the performers left the stage after the Light My Fire finale the audience members spontaneously started singing Happy Birthday for Manzarek.
Here’s the full set list of last night’s show:
When the Music’s Over
Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)
Love Me Two Times
Back Door Man
Nausea (an X cover)
People Are Strange
Five to One
Break on Through (to the Other Side)
Riders on the Storm
Light My Fire
Sources: Tracy Lindley Ramer and Rolling Stone online
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