I was late getting to the show. As usual, getting caught up downloading the newest from catchy UK bands like Panic Prevention had thrown my trip a few millibeads off kilter. I’d read about this band The Doors in Rolling Stone, the biography No One Here Gets Out Alive, Spin magazine, innumerable musical publications online and otherwise. Unfortunately for me and my lacking fully-formed technical skills regarding basic things like the space/time continuum, I’d not only missed the opening act, I’d missed The Doors’ dramatic onstage entrance by 30 minutes, apparently I’d just missed “Soul Kitchen” a personal favourite from their debut album. The line-up to the Whiskey A-Go-Go was winding all the way down the block and it was a frustratingly warm LA Friday night. Luckily, my forged pass to get in without having to pay or wait in line succeeded with ease and the hulking bouncer, though confused, let me proceed through the front door and nodded to the ticket-taker that I was ok to not pay the $1.50 to get in. Don’t get me wrong, despite being a rookie time-traveler with the sole intent of catching an early Doors’ show, I would have been almost gleeful to pay the cover, but I forgot to pack US$ currency. Stupid, yes, I mean when you go to the trouble of constructing a machine that lets the world continue to turn while you revert backwards 40 years to catch a band that changed rock ‘n roll, you’d think you’d equip yourself with basic currency. Nonetheless, entering the Whiskey I was greeted with a blast of old school Virginia tobacco that hit my face like a warm ancient familiar wind; I knew I was in the right place. I could hear the guitarist’s otherworldly wail and a disconcerting chill went down my spine that eerily reminded me when and where I was. I knew this song “When The Music’s Over ” from so many high school house parties. There was a bleeding red light that bathed the hungry audience and the room as though this was a distinct district in itself. There were so many sweaty, writhing people. Some smoking joints, some cigarettes all mingled with the scent of cheap beer. I could only seek a place to myself so as to not interfere with the future of mankind. The great Canadian Michael J. Fox showed the world in the early 80’s how catastrophic that could be, so I did my absolute best to minimize my contact. I only hoped that my frayed all-denim outfit would blend in as well as I’d hoped it would. I trusted that no one would notice the “Slippery When Wet” ink markings on the back of my older brother’s coat. What could I do, I had to borrow what I could, right? One thing I could not deny, from my initial absorption of everything my excitedly nervous eager eyes could drink in was the astoundingly racial diversity of the crowd, considering the era. As well, the overwhelming abundance of the attractive dancing throng of late-sixties-morals-women was mind-boggling. I couldn’t help but consider throwing the fate of humanity into question when I caught the eye of a gorgeous Dutch hippie girl in a ridiculously tight t-shirt. However, I reminded myself, I was here to not interfere with the fate of humankind, but rather to take in the work of a band that was to influence decades of rock bands for generations to come and do so with simple journalistic objectivity. So I broke her incredible gaze. You have no idea how difficult that was. Seriously. Describe what you see and hear I muttered quietly to no one in particular. Focus on this noble intent. This was my singular objective. In addition, I had no fixed idea how long my aluminum-based rectangular craft would last on the LA rooftop on a nearby building before some unwashed hippie mistook it for either a free shower or a convenient possible porta-potty. I found myself leaning against an available load-bearing post that gave me a nearly ideal viewing access to the stage about 50 feet away. Surveying the crowd, I estimated there to be about 400 patrons, maximum. Not a one lost in their own selfish conversations, rather all eyes were on stage, intently watching the foursome perform their act in near-perfect synchronicity. I chided myself for not getting my spacial timing coordinates more accurate and thus missing their opening, but worse their huge classic track, I was already in mid-song for When The Music’s Over but at this point I had no choice, as dirty, sweaty bar folk filed past me seeking a better view. I finally drew my attention solely to the stage. It was time to take notes and review as I knew my time was limited.

The guitarist’s wailing slowed to a singular plucked humble fading note and the singer broke the near-silence with a halting proclamation in a rather out-of-the-blue manner: “Cancel my subscription to the resurrection!” The audience let out a small gasp. “Send my credentials to the house of detention. I’ve got some friends inside.” The song took a somber tone as the singer took on a more determined gaze at the crowd, eying each corner down. “The face in the mirror won’t drop.” This was answered by a virtual nodding by the organist and guitarist in unison in a double-beat. The singer sing-spoke further with a thick Ginsbergian-laden voice, “The girl in the window won’t stop. A feast of friends, ‘alive’ she cried, waitin’ for me, out-side!” The crowd collectively withdrew a bit, pondering the words. The bass-line and the chords encouraging rumination. Several seconds passed, but it really seemed like minutes. The grooving movement of the crowd slowed. Where was this band taking them? Despite my readings, I wondered too.

He leaned into the microphone with a relaxed subtlety and let the words breathe out of his alcohol-soaked pores, then the mouth. “Before I sink, into the big sleep…. I want to hear…I want to hear…the scream of the butterfly.” This caused the organist to lean heavily on his right foot, which controlled the volume of his instrument. Slowly, the sound of a continuous vibrato note flowed out of the surrounding PA’s then suddenly receded. As the sound reached that peak, it suddenly was punctuated by the drummer’s attentive snapping snare drum commanding the singer to jump back into cadence. Almost startled, the singer inhaled deeply and continued his monologue as though uninterrupted. “Come back! Baby…back into my, arms.” He gently pleaded to an unknown lover. The organist was simultaneously playing the bass line, and holding it smooth and holding it steady. Doom-doo-doo-doom, dooh-doo-doo-dooom. The second the last word was repeated, the hi-hat exhaled a deep sigh, letting the singer continue in perfect time. In a tobacco-raspy voice he lightly sung with a mild annoyance, “we’re getting tired of hanging around. Waitin’ around with our heads to the ground.” A strange awkward pause occurred as the singer looked to his left towards a roadie offstage. “I hear a very gent-tle sound.” The singer barely murmured. At that moment, the singer whirled around in a controlled manner to face his drummer, and a fresh instrumental dialogue began. “Very near, yet very far. Very soft, yet very clear. Come today. Come today.” The drummer, eyes riveted on his band leader began to furiously twitch his wrists in a stark, angry-jazz staccato beat, mixing rim-taps and stark raps to his snare drum. Apparently satisfied with this rhythmic communication, the singer turned languidly to his lead guitar player who was standing, nearly frozen on stage, not picking at his strings. No noise. No music from him of late, but he stood with a slight smirk as though he were channeling a hint of nirvana from a Zen Buddhist monk. Only the sound of the organ’s bass line and the comforting continuity of the drummer’s steady riff could be heard. Turning from the guitarist and to the swaying, transfixed audience, the singer asked aloud, “what have they done to the earth? What have they done to our fair sister?” Pausing briefly, and with the full fierce cooperation of his rim-tapping drummer hitting the edge of his snare at a sudden 30bpms, the singer answered his own question: “Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her, stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn and….Tied her with fences…and….dragged her down!” A tremendous emphasis on the last word, sinking as deep into the abyss as he dropped comfortably onto a dark, low bass note. The organist continued his smooth rhythm, matched only with the drummer’s regular tapping in full manic musical agreeance. “I hear a very gentle sound.” The singer stopped and whispered, “with your ear down, to the ground….” As the sheer weight of the moment lingered and the heavy sentence hung on so long, the singer crouched down to his knees before bursting upright with his organist, drummer and guitarist pausing in half second delay as he let loose his righteous cry, “We want the world and we want it (we want the world), We want the world and we want it….NOW?” The drummer escalated his astounding militant drum roll into a dizzying crescendo as the singer crouched, bouncing, faced the very drummer whom he was inducing the very water inside the singer to boil. In an instant, the singer exploded upright, in time with the crashing of the cymbals, the guitar player’s pick striking all 6 electrified strings at once, the organist using all ten fingers fluttering over his 88’s, the singer yelled one word: “NOW!” This unleashed a bomb explosion of fury from the four players in perfect musical time. The song, interrupted, narrated, temporarily dislocated and dissected blew into broken dam of all 4 musicians hitting their power chords, literally pushing the crowd backwards with the exhaled air of the blasting speakers.

The sheer bombast of the following refrains stunned the audience (myself included) until the raucous waves of music muscle relaxed again, allowing the collective whole to regain their sense of where there where and what they’d witnessed. Like everyone else, I was standing in quiet awe which made me completely susceptible to a large drunken audience member knocking me nearly to the ground in their uninhibited revelry. However, instead of apologizing, the bearded offender grabbed me by my brother’s ripped denim jacket and pulled me to eye-level shouting “Don’t interrupt my song!” I glared into the rabid eyes of the LSD’d interrogator and the immediate thoughts of course were to preserve myself. “Look, its Jim!” I shouted pointing wildly behind him. The beast momentarily dropped me to my feet and realizing I’d spared the future of all humankind irreparable damage, I knew I had to flee. Before the man’s acid-laced brain could process what exactly had transpired – despite the fact the band was still wrapping up their breathtaking set, I was gone. I pushed and pulled my denim way through the hot Whiskey-A-Go-Go club to the blazing red exit sign that welcomed me with cooler smoke-free air. All I could hear upon my frantic exit was the singer’s microphoned plea “Persian night babe! Save us! See the light babe! Save us! Jes-us, save us!” When I broke into the LA night air I was met with a few frantic looks from dazed onlookers still inline, who greeted me with “dude” and “hey brother” and I looked to the rooftop where my veritable time-traveling port-a-potty was faithfully waiting for a 2009 concert review of the 1967 Doors show I’d just witnessed. I saw my rooftop and stealthily climbed the nearest fire escape. If I was lucky, in minutes, all going well, I’d be back in my condo overlooking Spadina Avenue looking my fair city Toronto. I surveyed the sultry city of Angels and breathed the late 60’s air one last time, wishing I could stay, but grudgingly proceeded to open the aluminum door of my craft. Simmering with excitement and my little notebook tucked in my back pocket, I closed the thin bluish door and pulled the red lever, crossing my fingers in hopes that 40 years forward to the future would be a spectacular and seamless process. After all, this was a rock review whose time had come.