Doors – Live in Vancouver 1970

January 01, 1970

(Bright Midnight Archives/Rhino)


Contrary to the recurring (and maddening) slice of common
wisdom, the Doors of 1970 were anything but a creatively spent force. True, that nasty little incident in Miami the year before had taken its toll on
the entire band, and Jim Morrison’s subsequent obscenity conviction (and
eventual sentencing in October) would weigh even heavier. Still, art is art,
and business is business, so between those two events the band recorded and
released fifth studio album Morrison
, a bracingly powerful record containing some of the group’s strongest
material since their ’67 debut; and they set out on the road with a vengeance,
starting in January and continuing through the end of August when they played
England’s Isle of Wight festival. Many of the concerts from the 1970 run were
recorded, and in recent years the Doors have issued a number of the better
shows through their Bright Midnight imprint, distributed via Rhino.


On June 5 and 6 the band made a kind of guerilla trek up the
West Coast to Seattle and Vancouver, and the general consensus among fans is
that while both concerts were lengthy and dotted by setlist surprises
(typically, old blues or rock ‘n’ roll covers; blues legend Albert King was the
opening act, so he also guested on a few songs) neither has gone down in Doors
lore as “essential.” The Seattle
show, in fact, is probably better known for its contentious atmosphere than for
the music, as Morrison seemed alternately bored and intent upon taunting the
audience, which responded in kind. So it’s ironic that Seattle and Vancouver
have been heavily bootlegged over the years, starting back in the vinyl era,
typically with cherrypicked song selections (for example, a pair of CD bootlegs
from the late ‘90s bore the titles Seattle
and, for the Vancouver show, Feel
The Blues
). Enter Rhino with Live in
Vancouver 1970
, a two-CD boasting vastly cleaned-up sound (courtesy
longtime engineer and soundman Bruce Botnick, who has overseen most of the
Bright Midnight titles) and packaged in a fold-out “wallet” design with repros
of concert posters and ticket stubs, plus a photo of Morrison onstage with guitarist
King and brief liner anecdotes from surviving Doors Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger
and John Densmore.


And while this recording of the June 6, 1970, show at
Vancouver’s P.N.E. Coliseum is probably more important as a historical document
– there’s quite a bit of stage dialogue from Morrison, and King is onstage with
the band for nearly a half hour – than a sonic one (unlike some other live
Doors releases that were recorded in multitrack, this one is sourced to just a
pair of mics originally positioned on the Vancouver stage) it’s clearly an
artifact that even moderate Doors fans will enjoy. The Doors come out swinging
with one of their guaranteed crowd-pleasing concert openers, Morrison Hotel standout “Roadhouse
Blues,” delivering it with a loose intensity that sets up some early setlist
drama, with the “Alabama Song” / “Back Door Man” / “Five To One” triptych quickly
following, ultimately leading to a climactic 13-minute “When The Music’s Over.”


Not long after that, King joins the band, contributing some
particularly stinging slide guitar to “Little Red Rooster,” “Money,” “Rock Me”
and “Who Do You Love,” and with King extremely prominent in the PA mix, it’s
fascinating to hear a kind of alternate universe Doors transmogrified into a
full-on electric blues band. “Who Do You Love” is a particularly riveting


The third segment of the concert is largely taken up by
lengthy readings of first “Light My Fire” and then “The End” – prior to “LMF”
there’s also a brief recitation from Morrison of his “Soft Parade” spoken word
intro, aka “Petition the Lord With Prayer” – and while neither number holds any
radical surprises, each offers ongoing evidence of the band’s prowess as a
well-honed jamming unit that could stretch out and improvise in concert with
the best of the era’s groups.


So as suggested above, don’t let the anti-Lizard King
naysayers and curmudgeons try to steer you down the wrong path: although several
of the Doors studio albums contained their share of less-than-thrilling
moments, in concert was where the band really shined. Fans and newcomers alike
should count themselves lucky that the Doors’ vaults have turned out to be so
well-stocked with documentation.


End,” “Who Do You Love,” “Five to One” FRED MILLS


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