The program for this evening is not new. You've seen this entertainment through and through
You've seen your birth your life and death. You might recall all of the rest
Did you have a good world when you died? Enough to base a movie on?

(From "The Movie" by Jim Morrison/The Doors)

Jim Morrison’s reflective lines about the power of cinema came to mind while eagerly anticipating the one-night-only screening of "The Doors: Break on Thru, A Celebration of Ray Manzarek" this February 12, 2020, which would have been the 81st birthday of the late music maestro who died in 2013. The Corvin Cinema opened its "doors" for the benefit of those not present at the concert staged and filmed in Manzarek’s memory at the Fonda Theatre, Los Angeles, on February 12, 2016.

Blink and you may have missed this cheerful one-off occasion at the Corvin. With many Doors "rockumentaries" still ongoing, often enough the main focus is with the late but still highly charged singing shaman Jim Morrison. But not on these two special February nights, in both 2016 and 2020, as the spotlight was put firmly on Manzarek, the acclaimed keyboard wizard and main driving force of this perennial band whose brief but illustrious career began more than 50 years ago.

The film is part documentary but mostly live performance, and needless to say plenty of attention remains heaped upon moody Morrison, even in absentia after his death in Paris in 1971. The singer really needs no introduction but it was mastermind Manzarek who bought this band together in 1965 and delivered the distinctive Doors sound.

The Venice Beach quartet created an astonishing repertoire of music, as this film testifies. In six years up to 1971, "Break on Through", "Strange Days", "Roadhouse Blues", "Riders on the Storm" and many other gems from the excelling Doors catalogue still "light a fire" with many millions all these years later.

The line-up was completed by the "electrifying" flamenco guitarist Robby Krieger and accomplished jazz drummer John Densmore, and it was the idea of these two, the surviving half of The Doors, to celebrate the band's number two man, and to do it on his birthday.

It took some time to organise but eventually on that night at the Fonda Theatre they were supported by a consortium of modern-day musicians from bands such as Foo Fighters, Stone Temple Pilots, Jane’s Addiction, X, Gov’t Mule, Paul McCartney’s Band and Dead Sara. With much to live up to, all jammed loud and proud to a highly receptive audience – as well as to Ray and Jim, for surely they were there in spirit too.

It can’t be The Doors without Manzarek and Morrison but it was clear that everyone both on stage and in the audience was thrilled to see "infrequents" Krieger and Densmore that night, which turned into a rowdy sing-along party.

The evening was similar to a live Doors event in Budapest in July 2007. For those fortunate to have been there, Margaret Island was the setting for "Riders on The Storm" under the guise of "Manzarek and Krieger" (no Densmore) and some session musicians. Although everyone knew it would have been greater with all four original members, we were all chuffed to be part of Doors history, even on a small scale outdoors on that memorable night at the Viztorony / Water Tower.

As poet William Blake cited, "There are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between there are doors". It was this cryptic line that inspired the band's name and says everything about them. Even if it is "known" or "unknown" if there will ever be other live shows like these again, what is definitely known is that The Doors will continue to sound very good in times to come.


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