The 21st Century Doors:     
Roseland Ballroom
New York City, NY
April 24, 2003

by Mary Keysper

As we approached the venue and saw "THE DOORS--SOLD OUT," my pulse began to race. Having been a dedicated Doors fan since 1967 (over 36 years), and having never seen The Doors perform, well I just could not control myself. I was with a friend Jay, my daughter Sarah who is 17 and her boyfriend Pat, also 17. Pat looked at me and said that he had never seen anyone as excited about a show as I was. I was not the only one peaking with excitement as we entered the door at 7:15 p.m.

The show was scheduled to start at 8:00, but I knew The Doors would be fashionably late. The crowd was getting restless, the excitement level rising as the wait dragged on. Roseland Ballroom is a dark, dreary place-- Perfect for The Doors, I thought to myself as I edged my way up to the front left of the stage. It was standing room only in Roseland. I just had to get near Ray. I couldn't wait to see his every move and I had the perfect spot. I held my ground as others tried to get close.

At about 8:40 p.m., a girl came on stage, probably some local DJ but I didn't recognize her and she did not give her name. At that point, all I could think of was their intro: "Ladies and Gentlemen, from Los Angeles, California, THE DOORS." Then the girl said just that and the crowd went wild. I thought I was going to have a heart attack when I saw Ray and Robby enter the stage. I have waited so long to see them. They were extremely well received by the crowd. Ian was also looking good in his leathers.

They blasted into “Roadhouse Blues” (which is my favorite song), and it was so smooth. They all appeared to be very comfortable playing, as if they had never stopped. It was awesome to say the least. "Break On Through" followed; everyone was singing. The guy in front of me was video taping. The guy next to me had dialed up his friend on the cell phone and was sending the concert over the wire. I was wishing I had sneaked in my camera.

The next song up was "When the Music's Over" during which I especially missed John Densmore as I think his drumming on this song is unbeatable (no pun intended). Ty Dennis played well, but it wasn't John. The crowd became so involved during this song, as if it were personal for each of us. The familiar intro to "Love Me Two Times" started up and all eyes were on Robby. He is so amazing; his fingers just fly so effortlessly. Ian never missed a step, and I was taken by his moves on stage. I had thoughts of Jim, but Jim's moves were always a bit choppy and slightly uncoordinated. Jim was more spontaneous, though.

Ian mentioned that Robby was going to play some mean slide guitar and I knew at that point that "Moonlight Drive" was next up. Everyone knows that this is the first song that Jim sang to Ray on Venice Beach the day they decided to form the group. Chills went up my spine just envisioning that scene. Ian went right into "Horse Latitudes." I closed my eyes and pictured Jim on stage. It was overwhelming.

The guy in front of me was told to stop video taping. "Wild Child" was next, complete with the videos of the Indians dancing in the background. Ian does a superb job on this song, very strong and quite nice stepping on his part along with the Indians. Ray then introduced a new song, but I didn't catch the title. I had a bit of a hard time hearing the band when they spoke, but that could be because I was under the speaker. This song just slinked along in typical Doors style. I really liked the song and got even more excited when Ray said they were planning to record some new songs. With that comment, Ray broke into the intro of "Whiskey Bar (Alabama Song),” followed by the legendary "Back Door Man" (another of my favorites). Ian was all over "Back Door Man," one of his stronger presentations. This round ended with a mean version of "5 to 1." I was writing down the set list and put a star next to this one as exceptional. Images flashed behind the band during this song. Images of war, presidents, etc., flipped by, but I could only see a piece of the screen due to my position in front of the stage. The crowd was totally into it now, everyone chanting "one more time". I was dancing in my own little space.

Then two stools were brought out and Ray, Ian and Robby did an acoustic-type version of "Crystal Ship" and "People are Strange." I didn't expect to hear "Crystal Ship" so that was icing on the cake. Everyone was singing "People are Strange." That song has the catchiest lyrics and organ riff. Ray got up and walked to the back of the stage. The spotlight was again on Robby as he played his famous flamenco style intro to "Spanish Caravan." Both Sarah and Pat love this song and I watched them moving to it. I'm not a big fan of this song, but Robby was just incredible to watch as he poured out his solos.

"Maggie M'Gill" followed, an exceptional blues number complete with a mean bass line provided by Angelo lurking in the back. He's cool; he just hangs in the back, but you know he is there. Angelo's driving bass line took them into "LA Woman," which also received a star on my list. I thought this was the best song they did in the whole show. I have to give credit to Angelo and Ty on this one. They were so tight. Ray excelled on his boogie-woogie and I could see a big smile on his face. He was truly having fun up there. Robby walked to the left side of the stage and stood in front of Ray as they exchanged riffs. I'm glad I got to see Robby for a bit close-up.

It was just a matter of time before the familiar organ intro to "Light My Fire." I was waiting to hear this because of the long solos. Ray was awesome to watch; the maestro was at work. Even though he has probably played this song hundreds of times, it seemed so fresh and spontaneous. Robby came over to watch Ray solo, playing low in the background and letting Ray hit the heights. I was amazed at Ray's phenomenal keyboarding; he truly is the master. Then it was Robby's turn. Like water flowing, the notes just poured out of him. You could see a sense of pride in Robby playing their biggest hit since he wrote it. During both solos the excitement just kept building and building. Then Ian jumped back in to wrap it up. Again, I entered another star on my list.

They quickly got up and said their good-byes, mentioning that they love playing to the New York crowd. I'm sure they were reminiscing about the concerts at the Felt Forum back in 1970. Smoke covered the stage and people were chanting DOORS! DOORS! just like you hear on the “Absolutely Live” album.

They came back out and Ray's intro of "Riders On The Storm" quieted the crowd. Everyone was singing, people were hugging each other. Lounge music, my ass. This song is so perfect, so haunting. I always think of the desert when I hear it and what could go wrong out there where no one is looking. Robby then kicked into "Peace Frog" and the crowd was rocking out and dancing. Ian was pumping up the crowd. My daughter looked over at me with a huge smile on her face as she especially loves this song. They again left the stage, but I knew the music was not over.

Amidst screams, howls and chants of DOORS! DOORS! Ian appeared and explained how much shit that Ray and Robby had gone through to bring the concert to us. The audience responded accordingly. As the noise level rose, Ray, Robby and the rest of the band once again appeared for their final closer, "Soul Kitchen." I knew this would be the last song and I was feeling like I was at a wedding and the reception was over. I knew this would be THE END. While the song was playing, some woman appeared on the stage in a slinky long beige dress with spaghetti straps, wearing no bra. She was moving seductively to the beat. She was large-breasted and even flashed Ian a few times. She danced around to each band member. When she got to Ray, she danced for him, rubbing her breasts. He was quite taken and another huge grin washed over his face. As she made her way back towards Ty and Angelo, someone escorted her off the stage. I could only imagine the excitement Jim used to create within the crowd. I was just waiting for something else to happen. When the song ended, they took their bows and left. No big fan fare. They knew they had blown us away and oozed confidence as they walked off the stage.

There was the expected political banter from Ray about how someone should pass a joint to President Bush, that Bush needed to lay back, and how everyone should come together in peace. There was the expected guy who passed out on the sideline from too much drinking. There was the expected smell of grass in the air. There was the expected tossing of beer at the end of the show. Yes, I had expectations. The band itself exceeded them, not any of the other stuff. Not the videos playing in the background. Not the girl smoking a pipe of grass next to me. Not the girl dancing on the stage. Just the band.

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