It is apparent that for the June 6, 1970 concert in Vancouver, British Columbia The Doors had the blues on their minds! Blues legend Albert King opened for The Doors and joined them onstage for four songs. There was some experimenting going on in Vancouver. The Doors seemed to be pushing the limits of rock or at least exploring the limits between rock and the blues.
At first the Vancouver show sounds more sedate (not sedated) than the Felt Forum shows a few months prior. Upon closer listening you can hear The Doors were going for more of a bluesy feeling than a hard rock sound, and that explains why Morrison, in introducing Albert King, gives a quick tutorial to the audience about the two main indigenous forms of American music blues and country coming together in rock `n’ roll. Morrison’s tipping the audience off as to what they’re doing.
King joins the band right in the middle of a typical Doors concert to jam on some blues standards with the band, including “Little Red Rooster,” “Money,” “Rock Me,” and Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love.” King draws The Doors deep into the blues adding a twangy edge to their sound.
The instrumentals in most of the songs highlight the bluesy feeling, as in “Five to One” and “Light My Fire.” While they didn’t change “Light My Fire” substantially, during the instrumental Morrison comes in singing lines from “St. James Infirmary” as a starting point before he slips in some bucolic, blues-tinged imagery from “Porgy and Bess” to highlight the bluesier aspects of The Doors’ usual repertoire. With lyrics like “the fish were jumping, and the cotton is high,” what band today of the same caliber as The Doors would or could risk such onstage experimentation?
The Vancouver show was only five months before The Doors would start recording “L.A. Woman.” Were they experimenting that night to build the nerve and inclination to do a blues album? Or were they working out how a rock band could be a blues band?
Originally published May 6, 2014.