The Doors

Convention Hall, Asbury Park, NJ

The Doors
Convention Hall
Asbury Park, NJ,  August 31, 1968
The Doors were on tour full-time in 1968, roaring generally to all major cities in the US and due to their already earned notoriety in the media, the word of their coming has preceded the band, causing high anticipation and sold-out venues all across the country. During this summer tour, a tour that US has never seen before for all its near-riot gigs along with the singer's controversial theatrics, the band have reached the pinnacle of their live performances. These were musically and artistically the most blazing times of their career, with Jim being the guiding light, now perfectly in command with his act, if he wants to, with his fascinating stage persona often full of unexpectedness and drama backed by a loyal band very much in tune with him. 

After they finished off their hefty East Coast tour on August 4 in Philadelphia, and basically six months of constant touring, they took a three week long rest to be fit for the coming European tour. Still, in order not to lose focus, they got back on the road on August 30, 1968 with a short but rather effective warm-up tour on the North East coast before taking Europe in their stride in September. The first of the four shows they were scheduled to play in three days was an outdoor concert in Columbia, Maryland at Merriweather Post Pavilion where the band performed to several thousands under the trees of Symphony Woods. 

On the following day, Frank Lisciandro photographed Jim and his entourage, including Bill Siddons, Babe Hill and Paul Ferrara, as they were taking their plane to Asbury, New Jersey. There, they pulled off two sets at the Convention Hall, located on the boardwalk and on the beach in Asbury Park, NJ. Opening act were Earth Opera which Bruce Springsteen, a then 15 year old kid remembers "did great until they performed the Great American Eagle Tragedy, when the greasers took exception to Peter Rowan's classic anti-war song and flung garbage at the stage until the band fled and the stage was surrounded by regular and rent-a-cops, on hand to deal with a George Wallace rally taking place outside. This is how the Doors landed on stage." 

As usual, they kicked off the late show with 'Back Door Man' but Jim was not yet in the mood, resulting a laid back opener. He began seemingly incurious; there were no moans or shouts nor any of his routines to set the mood, only plain but resolute singing. Right before Robbie started his guitar solo, which gave back the performance its edge, did Jim finally let a scream out. As soon as Robbie finished his part, Jim began to sing 'Five To One' straight off, drawing wild applause and forcing his mates to change the melody in the spur of the moment. Jim is appearently much more into performing this tune and with his vocal chords warmed up, he brings his finest form to the performance, profundly emphasising certain parts of the lyrics, shouting "We're gonna take it over! COME ON!!" in the midst of wild cheers to which Robbie delivers a spectacular guitar solo. Evidently in the mood by now, he decides to play with the audience during the end of the song, singing "get together for just one more..." repeatedly, over and over for minutes until the crowd grew impatient enough for Jim to finally exclaim "I mean EVERYBODY gotta get together just one more TIME!!" The band responds with an ear-shattering sounds of noise closing the 14 minute long spellbinding performance. The act, which is rarely pulled off puts the audience in awe and receives an enormous applause. 

After the boistorous performance Jim addressed the crowd: "Yeah! We definetly wanna have fun tonight, okay? Anything goes!" He's putting on a bold front in the following 'Break On Through' and he's in complete contrast to his opening: he's engaged and performs the song at an overwhelming pace, setting the tone for Robby as well. 'Love Me Two Times' countinues with the same commitment and Jim finishes off the tune singing from full throat. 'When The Music's Over' starts with Jim remarking "beautiful" while Ray plays the intro. The performance is dominated by Robbie's very own, extraterrestrial guitar solo with ear-tearing licks. During the long silent part a heckler unexpectedly lets out an "asshole!" to which Jim responds after a few seconds: "Come up here and I'll show you something." This earns a big laughter from the crowd which is appearently fond of witnessing such uncontrolled interaction between singer and attendant. As Jim countinues to tease the crowd along to Ray's monotone play in the back, they became more and more reckless, stirring up other members of the audience as well, who suddenly scream as one, shouting "What are you waiting for?!" "Fuck You!" In return Jim answers patiently: "I wonder if you wanna.. you wanna hear it?" But his remark arose another wave of hecklers screaming, shouting requests which Jim laughs off scornfully. Suddenly he bursts out in anger: "OH COME ON LITTLE FUCKER, SHUT UP AND LISTEN!! ... We Want the world and we want it NOW!" He finshes the song being just as restless as his audience while the band gives the song the grand finale with all its glory and thundering sounds featuring Ray's extraordinary improvisation after 
the climaxing part - similarly compelling as Robbie's licks before. Spanish Caravan follows, an ever-present tune in these summer setlists, and tonight an engaging rendition with Jim's and Robbie's great duet which receives an adoring applause. 

A remarkably extended 'Soul Kitchen' follows with Robby's excellent guitar solo, featuring Jim inserting improvised lyrics "Something wrong, something not quite right" lifted from 'When The Music's Over' where it's usually sang live. Clearly inspired, later Jim also adlibs the closing lines of 'Summers Almost Gone' to the tune: "We gotta go now, we gotta go now, We had a good time, but they're gone." After the performance people started shouting requests again, including 'Light My Fire' and 'The End' and surprisingly enough, they did receive both. Jim bursts into 'Wake Up!' and led the audience casually through the performance. Then everyone went wild and cheered enthusiastically when the band kicked off 'Light My Fire,' - probably the most cheered song all night - and get what they came for in an excessive performance. Greg Shaw in "The Doors On The Road" reports: "After The Doors’ finale of “Light My Fire”, the audience is well on their way to the exits when Morrison unexpectedly reappears onstage. Somewhat shyly he announces, “Hey! The show was supposed to end with that number, but [pause] I don’t see why we can’t go on!” All at once, the entire crowd reverses in a huge surge, cheering, shouting, scaling chairs, and prompting the hall’s security forces to encircle the stage. The mesmerizing opening chords of “The End” serve to induce a calm trance throughout the scores of people crushed against the stage, and The Doors conclude the show with a terrific version of the song." 

Vince Treanor, the Doors' road manager recollections of the night: "The show, fuelled by excitement and Jim's moderate drinking, was another success. There were no riots, no excitement. Just another good show. When it was all over, the crowds still loud with excitement and the experience went out peacefully. Again, it might not have been one of the best but compared to the performances after Amsterdam, it was magnificent."
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