Wild Child Plays Like The Doors
March 1, 2017
Tonight I decide to stay home and watch the documentary Muscle Shoals about many great singers appearing in a small Alabama town to record music. Down in the land of high humidity and slow-talking, Aretha Franklin enlivens everyone with pure and powerful vocals like those of Wilson Pickett and the Rolling Stones and others in an all-star cast, and as they finish I look at a digital clock showing nine-fifty-five and say to my wife, “We gotta get out more. Let’s go.”
I’m never a stylish dresser but she usually is and surprises me by simply putting on a jacket over an old shirt that meshes with her gray sweat pants and tennis shoes, and I drive fast to a nightclub I haven’t visited, find a parking space not too far from the door, and hustle to the ticket table out front where I ask a man featuring linebacker biceps, “Has Wild Child played yet?”
“They start in about five minutes.”
“You still have any tickets?”
We pay forty bucks for two and enter a darkened club with few tables on the main floor downstairs and dining tables upstairs on the left side overlooking the stage at the far end of the building. I estimate three hundred people are present, a majority waiting in front of the stage, and half are in their twenties and thirties, a quarter appear to be in early middle-age, and only the final quarter, my contemporaries, are old enough to have been fans when Mr. Mojo Risin’ last performed. We join the group, standing behind a dozen deep in front of the stage.
I’ve never seen a tribute band perform live and worry I’ll miss those not here but am encouraged frontman Dave Brock toured three years with Doors guitarist Robby Krieger and organist Ray Manzarek, rock and roll hall of famers who, unlike surly drummer John Densmore, wanted to go out and play. Densmore even insisted his bandmates couldn’t call themselves The Doors since the heart of the band stopped that night in Paris. Litigious punches were exchanged, and the boys had to tour as Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek of The Doors. All three surviving Doors – Manzarek died a few years later – publicly praised Dave Brock’s interpretations of Morrison.
As Wild Child eases onto the stage, I note Brock looks similar to what Morrison would have in middle age if he’d lived temperately. Like his idol often did, Brock’s wearing a black T-shirt and white-shell necklace, and holds the microphone in his right hand and covers that hand with his left, placing his lips near the mike, caressing it, controlling it, assaulting it with strong smooth vocals enhanced by tight accompaniment on guitar, organ, and drums. They start the concert with the legendary ass-kicker “Roadhouse Blues,” and I know Brock isn’t Jim and these guys aren’t The Doors but close enough to evoke the hot sixties during the driving tempo of “Break on Through” and sensual “Touch Me” and funky “Soul Kitchen” and lyrical “Love Me Two Times” and melodic “Crystal Ship” and sleek “Love Her Madly” and soothing yet sad “Riders on the Storm” and more. The young people know the lyrics better than I, but I remember titles of all songs and write them on a pad, and without waiting I write “Light My Fire.” You damn well know they’re going to play that one. And they do. They play it well, the haunting organ, the rich vocals, come on, baby, don’t tell us goodbye. Get back out here. Just one more. They know what we need. “L.A. Woman.” And that’s what they perform, as strong and moving as the classic before it.
The band, which hasn’t talked to each other or the audience, leaves the stage at the rear, and I shout, “Dave, Dave Brock. Can I talk to you a second, please? It’s for my website.”
He can’t hear me. I assume that’s why he doesn’t turn around.
“Whatdya want to talk to that guy for?” asks an old man.
“To learn about the band.”
“No, I already know about them. Wild Child.”
“You need to learn more about The Doors.”
“Okay,” I say, “what do you want to tell me?”
“I’ve been listening to Chopin every day.”
“At the symphony?”
“Amid carved stones and nights very still and quiet,” he says, and turns away.
“Just a minute.” I reach for his right shoulder but it isn’t there. I reach for the other. It’s gone, too. “Sir, hold on, please.”
“Who’re you talking to?” asks my wife.