Tranforming myth into reality

They’ve never really been out of the picture since their end in the early ’70s. Steady and strong sales of classic album reissues on the succession of various phonographic formats introduced to generations of music listeners over the past three decades or so, never-ending compilation releases, and related films have all contributed to keeping the legend of The Doors truly alive. For fans young and old, the ongoing saga of this death-defying band is not unusual. As the faithful legions seem to see it, The Doors have always been around, almost as if the act never disbanded not long after the untimely death of their iconic frontman Jim Morrison in Paris back in 1971 – but not before the three surviving members opted to put out an album, «Full Circle,» which failed to register on a mass scale. Considering all this, however, even the most fervent of fans may have been taken by surprise by the decision for a reunion tour that is currently making its way around the world. It stops in Greece for one performance in Athens this Thursday at the Lycabettus Theater. Hearing the enduring band’s work on the radio, in homes, music stores, clubs, wherever, is expected. But seeing the reunited act, or part of it, on stage, way past its prime, does strike one as astonishingly unexpected. Nowadays, the act’s growth to mythical proportions means that its legions of fans would find it bizarre to experience them as anything less than metaphysical. Not surprisingly, amid the huge wave of old and not-so-old band revivals currently thriving on the rock ‘n’ roll circuit, the surviving Doors trio had been flooded by reunion offers for years before finally succumbing to temptation. On board for the tour are two of the act’s three surviving members, keyboardist Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robby Krieger, both key songwriters during the band’s sensational six-year run that began in the mid-’60s. Vocalist Ian Astbury, the former frontman of British new wave-rock band The Cult, has been recruited for the tour’s singing duties in place of the long-gone yet seemingly omnipresent Morrison, along with a bass-and-drums rhythm section. The group’s original drummer, John Densmore – who, incidentally, put out new work last year with a new group, Tribal Jazz – reportedly declined to join his two former bandmates. The revived act is billing itself as The Doors (Of the 21st Century). No doubt, the unique and appealing sound of The Doors provided a backbone for the band’s lasting quality. Beyond that, the act’s controversial presence, spearheaded by Morrison’s well-publicized antics as well as the charismatic yet troubled frontman’s untimely death, apparently by drug overdose, cemented the LA band’s timeless place and mythical status in rock ‘n’ roll history. Taking it all back to its roots, The Doors were formed in Los Angeles in 1965 by UCLA film students Manzarek, Morrison, Krieger and Densmore. Minus a bass player from the onset, the quartet never added one to their sound, which was dominated by Manzarek’s electric organ work and Morrison’s deep and resonant voice with which he delivered his highly poetic lyrics. The quartet were signed to Elektra Records in 1966 and, the following year, released their self-titled debut album, which besides featuring hits such as «Light My Fire,» was an intriguing and solid listen from beginning to end. While catapulting the band into the period’s highly innovative rock arena, the debut album also highlighted the act’s unique sound. Forged swiftly by a team of young men with unquestionable musical direction and inspiration from day one, the sound of the debut album, which blended blues, classical, Eastern, and pop into dark and beguiling melodies, went on to characterize, with mild deviation, the band’s ensuing work. «Strange Days,» sang a 20-year old Morrison on the Doors’ second album, released late in 1967. Nearly four decades on, it should be a strange night as The Doors (Of the 21st Century) weave their way through a set list of timeless songs and attempt to make rock ‘n’ roll myth real again, for a night. Being there or not being there, out of immense respect, is likely to grow into a dilemma for many. Thursday (22/7), Lycabettus Theater, Athens. Advance tickets, priced at 45 euros, selling at Metropolis music stores, Tickethouse (42 Panepistimiou St – within the arcade), and the Rodon Club (24 Marni St). For credit card purchases, Ticketshop (tel 211.955.9900).