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The Doors foundation not quite
on solid ground

Ray Manzerak & Robby Krieger of The Doors
Pabst Theatre
Milwaukee, WI
May 30, 2010
Ray Manzerak
Ray Manzerak
Robby Krieger
Robby Krieger
Ray Manzerak
Ray Manzerak

Story and photos by Matt Schwenke

Complete with a rousing, off-stage introduction as two of the original four Doors members stepped out in front of the Pabst Theatre crowd, the set began on a rather awkward note as Ray Manzarek's keyboard wasn't coming through the speakers in what would've been a perfect segue into "Roadhouse Blues." As guitarist Robby Krieger talked to the crowd while the bug was worked out, the two legendary musicians would quickly turn things around and win the crowd over with what could only be described as genuine enthusiasm to be on stage performing some 40 years after their heyday in the music scene.

Sticking entirely to Doors tunes as they have done in earlier Manzarek-Krieger tours, the difficult position of frontman was admirably filled by Croatian born Miljenko Matijevic, who was the lead singer of the little-known American rock band SteelHeart. Donning leather pants and a Jim Morrison-esque aplomb behind the mic, Matijevic's timbre was remarkably close to that of the enigmatic singer and yet, much to his credit, he consciously walked a line between pulling attention away from Manzarek and Krieger by over-acting the part while still committing to Morrison's challenging presence and screaming vocals. Never an emphasized part of the Doors' sound, bassist Phil Chen was barely recognizable, save for a disjointed bass solo late in the set. The most notable difference when comparing styles to that of the original setup was the drums. While original drummer John Densmore, who doesn't exploiting The Doors' in any way and won't play in the band, played with a trademark, marching drum rigidity, Ty Dennis was often too loose with the rhythm and played with a complexity of sound that wasn't needed.

Differences aside, Manzarek and Krieger, who often added vocals throughout the night, hadn't lost a step behind their instruments and covered the majority of the hits with a few rarer tracks peppered in. Standouts included the rocking "Roadhouse Blues," the hazy "Strange Days," the crooning "Moonlight Drive," the near-tribal "Not to Touch the Earth" and the flamenco-infused "Spanish Caravan." At one point telling the crowd he'd leave the stage if the fans didn't stand up and dance, Manzarek worked the crowd with Milwaukee and marijuana references, at one point asking for a joint, and by the end of their encore performance of "Light My Fire," Manzarek and Krieger didn't need to tell the audience to get up on their feet and were actually lightly booed for not playing another encore song.

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