Steve Smith: Robby Krieger celebrating the Doors’ 50th anniversary in Pasadena, and more

After opening with The Doors 1967 debut 45, “Break On Through (To The Other Side),” they continued with Willie Dixon’s “Back Door Man,” also from The Doors quadruple-platinum self-titled debut LP. Woman,” “People Are Strange” and of course, an extended “Light My Fire,” that featured solos from each band member (Chen’s included Jimi Hendrix’s “Third Stone from the Sun” and Krieger’s included The Beatle’s “Eleanor Rigby” and, delightfully, “My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music”) that brought the evening to a close. With the spotlight on Krieger’s magnificently tasty guitar work, they delivered the expected hits, “Touch Me,” “Riders on the Storm,” “L.A.
However, the deeper cuts also resonated with these fans, including “My Eyes have Seen You,” the epic “When the Music’s Over,” the stomping blues of “Maggie McGill” and “Five to One,” “I’ll Never be Untrue” with guest vocalist Daniel Page that only appears in a box set, and “Moonlight Drive,” the first song Krieger ever played with The Doors, that segued into the pure wild and wonderful psychedelic strangeness of “Horse Latitudes.” Krieger’s tour will take him back to Southern California on May 27, when he shares a bill with The Yardbirds, Jo-El Sonnier and the Ragin’ Cajun Doug Kershaw at the Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Festival at Rancho Santa Susana Community Park.

After giving tryouts to a number of them, they realized that they had the ideal replacement within the band, drummer Phil Collins. Like Genesis, Krieger, who kicked off his brief 12-date Doors 50th Anniversary Tour last Friday at The Rose concert club in Old Town Pasadena, discovered that he didn’t have to look far to find a singer with many of Morrison’s vocal qualities. Since the death of Jim Morrison in 1971, former Doors guitarist Robby Krieger has performed his band’s classic songs with, among others, The Cult’s Ian Astbury. When Genesis’ frontman Peter Gabriel quit the British progressive rock group in 1975, the remaining members of the band received 400 applications to replace him. It’s his son, Waylon, who first backed his dad in his Robby Krieger Band as a backup guitarist in 1991.
76 on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time in 2011, was backed by noted bassist Phil Chen and drummer Ty Dennis, who served as the longtime rhythm section of the various Doors spinoff bands Krieger’s led with The Doors’ late keyboardist Ray Manzarek. Also, I have never seen so many cameras and cell phones recording a club show in my life. For many Doors fans, this was a special show. Seated nearby at The Rose were a mother and daughter who came from Prescott, Ariz., for the gig and next to them were a couple who came from Cincinnati. Integral to this group’s sound is Nathan Willett, leader of Long Beach indy rockers Cold War Kids, whose keyboards are Manzarek inspired. In addition to Waylon’s cool and confident presence behind his “I Spy” shades, the 71-year-old Krieger, ranked No. Indeed, as a veteran of many Rose shows, this concert packed them in far more than at any time I’ve ever seen.