By Simone Goldstone | NB Indy Soundcheck Columnist
The Doors lit up the night at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano September 23 when former Doors guitarist and founding member Robby Krieger brought his memorable music to the stage and proved that genius never dies.
Krieger and his son Waylon have been carrying the torch and lighting the fire the Doors left with their historic music catalog that immortalized L.A. in the late 60s and early 70s. Touring in support of his new book “Set the Night on Fire: Living, Dying and Playing Guitar with the Doors,” Robby played all the best songs, from poetic hymn-like hits such as “Crystal Ship” to familiar tunes everyone loves like “Riders on The Storm”.
Starting with “Break On Through (to the Other Side)” Krieger and his band, including his son Waylon, on vocals, Dan Rothchild (son of Doors producer Paul Rothchild) on bass, and Ed Roth on keyboard, transformed the dimly lit Coach House into a shrine of memorable music. There’s a reason these songs live on, and nobody can play them like Krieger can.
Patrons dined, danced, and indulged in rock and roll nostalgia, happy to be part of the legacy. The lively night had fans dancing by their seats and infiltrating the aisles to get a better look at their guitar playing idol.
Singing the words of the late Jim Morrison, Robby’s son, Waylon, joined his pops on stage, growling and belting his way through Jim’s words.
“I think a part of Jim is in Waylon,” Robby said of his son. Waylon gave Morrison’s songs a new life as his dad played his iconic riffs.
Throughout the night, the duo told stories, including one tender tale of Robby calming Jim down after a fight with his girlfriend, Pamela. Instead of taking his anger out with vices, Robby persuaded Jim to write a song. Thus, the haunting tune “People Are Strange” came to be.
The band acknowledged Ray Manzarek’s talent that allowed groove and rhythm to be a driving force of the Doors, despite there being no formal bass player. Manzarek’s genius was described perfectly, using examples by playing the bass line with one hand on the piano, and the melody on the other.
“It’s like playing two instruments at once,” Krieger described.
Despite launching into their 13th song, “When the Music’s Over,” the night had just started. The two-hour long show ran through a monster set list including a foot-stomping rendition of Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love?,” “Wild Child,” “Moonlight Drive,” “Love Her Madly,” and “Twentieth Century Fox.”
“Roadhouse Blues,” “Touch Me,” “L.A. Woman,” and “Soul Kitchen” closed out the night, followed by an encore of “Light My Fire/Eleanor Rigby/My Favorite Things” for a mash-up to remember.
Despite the years that passed, Robby Krieger was just as spry as ever: present, incredible, and happy to share his music with his many adoring fans. And as ever, oh so cool.
Families introduced their kids to the music that they held dearly, memories struck the audience as particular songs floated out from the dim stage, and the crowd got to see a part of history.
We may never get the chance to experience the Doors at the Whiskey a Go-Go in the 70s, but we can get as close as possible with Robby Krieger. He made the Coach House just as special that night.
For a list of upcoming Coach House shows, visit www.TheCoachHouse.com.