The Doors Break on Thru: A Celebration of Ray Manzarek review – pale fire

Here’s a deeply uncool, almost embarrassingly un-rock’n’roll Doors documentary; it’s unlikely to get toes a-tapping let alone light a fire. It’s essentially a filmed gig, reuniting the two surviving Doors, guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore, on stage with assorted members of Foo Fighters, Jane’s Addiction, Stone Temple Pilots and more filling in for Jim Morrison and keyboardist Ray Manzarek. The hits comes thick and fast, tightly arranged and slickly performed, but this lineup of well-preserved mostly male musicians gives the show the bland atmosphere of a celebrity tribute band.

The gig is dedicated to Manzarek, who died in 2013, and director Justin Kreutzmann pads out the gig footage with an interview the keyboardist gave and fresh input from Krieger and Densmore. The pair genially repeat anecdotes for the 1,000th time: how they met Manzarek at a transcendental meditation course and how they were initially underwhelmed by Morrison, then an insecure, shy kid. Still, some of the stories deserve repeating, such as the one about the time Morrison dropped acid before going on stage at the Hollywood Bowl, and spent the first few minutes picking at the AstroTurf. In archive footage, the sound on mute, we see him later at that same gig, whirling and howling, beautiful and unhinged.

That energy is not matched at the tribute gig, though guest singer Andrew Watt, with a preening performance of LA Woman, does a fair imitation of Morrison’s messiah complex, if not his appeal. Speaking to camera, Densmore glosses over his longrunning feud with Krieger over touring as the Doors without Morrison. At the time he is on record as saying: “It can’t be the Doors without Jim. It could be the Windows, the Hinges, I don’t care, as long as it’s not the Doors.” Watching this film, you might agree.

• The Doors Break on Thru: A Celebration of Ray Manzarek is released in the UK on 7 February and in Australia on 12 February.