LIVE: Robby Krieger @ The Egg, 4/11/15
Review by Steven Stock
At its best the music of the Doors made masterful use of dynamics, tension and release, but there was an entirely different kind of tension during the first few songs of Robby Krieger’s performance at The Egg on Saturday (April 11). Both Robby and his son Waylon Krieger, the band’s erstwhile vocalist, were under the weather, fighting off colds. Worse still, Waylon’s performance was shaky at first, both vocally and in terms of stage presence – he seemed more like a Lizard King impersonator rather than a singer, and the overall effect early in the set was that of a cover band (albeit a cover band with a superb guitarist) rather than true heirs to the Doors’ sizable legacy.
Hence the drama: would the two Kriegers and their band overcome sickness, silence the heckler, win over the crowd and emerge triumphant? It didn’t seem likely…
But something happened: while Robbie took advantage of his flamenco training to play an extended acoustic intro to “Spanish Caravan,” the rest of the band went offstage. Waylon had some green tea — perhaps it was magical tea, or perhaps Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek looked down from heaven and decided divine intervention was necessary. The heckler changed his mind (or passed out). And suddenly, after coming back onstage for “Spanish Caravan,” Waylon relaxed and just started singing instead of trying to channel Jim and/or Val Kilmer. For the rest of the evening we could focus on the pithy solos Robby wrung from his trusty Gibson SG, marvel at how well Nathan Wilmarth replicated Ray’s original keyboard parts and enjoy some of the best songs of the era.
These days people often forget that the Doors’ entire recorded legacy was forged in just six years from 1966-1971. How many other groups produced so many great songs in such a short span of time? Robby and his band tore through many of them with increasing confidence in the next hour. “Alabama Song” and “Five To One” were next, followed by a lovely version of “Riders on the Storm” where Robby took the opportunity to stretch out and play an extended solo. “Touch Me” sounded great even without the horns. A rousing version of “L.A. Woman” featured some great roadhouse piano from Wilmarth, while the ensuing “Maggie McGill” gave Robby a chance to show off his blues chops.
The evening ended on a celebratory note with an incendiary version of “Light My Fire,” the band at this point firing on all cylinders, Robby veering off into a jazzy solo that teasingly referenced John Coltrane’s version of “My Favorite Things.”
After a dodgy start Krieger and his band had pulled their act together and delivered a winning performance. Don’t you love a happy ending?
Bryan Lasky’s review and photographs at NYSMusic