WESTBURY MUSIC FAIR - 04/19/1968

WESTBURY, NY - U.S.A.



Venue Address: 960 Brush Hollow Rd. - Westbury, NY 
Promotion: Westbury Music Fair
Event: In Concert

Also Performing:
Earth Opera

Setlist:
 
Early Show
Light My Fire
When The Music's Over
The Unknown Soldier
(Incomplete)
Late Show
The Unknown Soldier
(Incomplete)

Recordings / Film:
16mm Professional Film - 'Feast of Friends' (See Details Below)

Photographers:
Ken Regan
Gregg Winter
Unidentified (Amateur)

Reviews / Info:
-3:00pm & 8:00pm scheduled start times.
-Jim Morrison arrives late for the first performance and Earth Opera plays an extended set.
-The Doors leave the venue following the first show and return for the late show.
-Backstage and performance footage is shot for 'Feast of Friends'.
-Various bootleg CD's and tapes claim to feature a recording of this performance; audio has never surfaced from this show.


"I was 14 years old at the time of the show, and I recall it was in the afternoon. I knew all the material on the Doors' first two records, and had read all the buzz about them, and was very excited to be seeing them. When my friend Joe and I entered the venue we were surprised when the usher took us down to maybe the fifth row or so, very close. Both shows were sold out and there was a lot of electricity in the air. Earth Opera opened the show and they were kind of an art-rock band with a then young Peter Rowan trying a bit too hard, and they went on a bit too long for a crowd that was psyched for The Doors. When the time approached for the Doors' entrance we could see there were a few movie cameras and cameramen poised close to the stage, and they did proceed to film, so somewhere in some vault there is very possibly a filmed record of this great show.

The Doors came out to a big ovation and since the Westbury Music Fair was a theater-in-the-round, they were positioned in four quadrants, so it was a less linear arrangement than in a traditional auditorium. Jim Morrison, however, being a free-range rock star wandered all over the stage and even out into the audience during the show, which was exciting and fun. He was wearing his legendary black leather pants and a white shirt and was totally in his prime. The thing that struck me fairly quickly was that The Doors, more than any other band that I heard live during those years, sounded as great in concert as they did on record. They were superb craftsman, and even with the limited audio technology of the 60s, their playing was clear and exact. No distortion, no fudging of notes, just bang on. I wish I remembered the song list better (I recall, for instance, being disappointed they didn't play "Strange Days"), but I will give you the highlights that have remained indelible since. But believe me, it was a sensational set, even if the particulars escape me forty or so years later:

The concert really took off with the inevitable "Light My Fire" and during the long jam Jim took out a flashlight and bounded off the stage and into the audience, shining the beam of the flashlight on sections of the audience as he prowled around. At one point someone threw a small bouquet of flowers at John Densmore who, literally without missing a beat, caught them, and then held him in his snare hand as he drummed for the entire rest of the song. Talk about a Summer of Love memory. When the sterling jams had concluded, Jim bounced back onstage and just ripped through the final chorus. There was a huge ovation as they concluded, but instead of just drinking it in they slid right into "When the Music's Over" which, even to this day after having attended hundreds of rock concerts, is still one of the most stirring performances I've ever witnessed. To actually have Robbie Krieger waving that dissonant sci-fi feedback right in front of your face, and Ray (God bless him) weaving those beatnik cathedral keyboard parts around Jim's poetry, well it doesn't get better than that. And they were bathed in a deep blue light. The high point came when Jim, after much dramatic timing and the band dropping out except for Ray's left hand on the bass part, did the "We want the world and we want it now....", paused, and the place felt like a pressure cooker about to explode, John did a loooooooooooooong drum roll, and then Jim screamed "NOW!!!!" like a banshee and the band came crashing back in, and it was the first time I ever saw a crowd go absolutely nuts. Just screaming, and cheering, and jumping up and down, just a celebration of life moment that I'll never forget. The real stuff.

They left the stage to a tremendous ovation, went off for a couple of minutes to continued frenzied cheering, and then came back for the encore, "The Unknown Soldier". This was the spring of '68, the height of Vietnam insanity, and they took the audience from roaring enthusiasm to absolute silence, as they acted out a military execution with - I'm sure you've seen some footage of this somewhere - Robbie shooting Jim to the ground with a guitar cacophany. Then Jim sings the next verse softly, lying on the stage floor, and you could've heard a pin drop. But when the chorus rolled around, he jumped up and just screamed it, and then as the band kept pushing, he kept yelling, "The war is over! The war is over!", until suddenly the band just stopped precisely, and Jim just said, "The war is over." And with that he jumped into the air, and before his feet hit the ground the stage lights went out and it was total darkness for maybe fifteen seconds, and then the stage lights, along with the house lights, came back on and The Doors were gone. No kidding. Everybody in the audience just looked at each other like, "Did that really happen?" It was truly amazing."


Rob Hollander
Binghampton, NY
Copyright © 2013 Rob Hollander

A Special Thanks to Rob Hollander for providing his review of the concert to MildEquator.com!

FEAST OF FRIENDS:



Backstage Westbury Music Fair

Info:

B&w footage documenting The Doors arrival for their performances at the Westbury Music Fair in New York on April 19th, 1968. Featuring audio, the black and white introductory portions of the finished film makes use of these shots. Albert Goldman appears next to Jim in the back of the limousine. Other portions of backstage footage exist from what appears to be this venue, however confirmation is still needed. While Babe Hill is said to have begun recording audio in May, he is present during this filming with a Nagra recorder in hand.

Color concert footage shot during at least one of The Doors performances at the Westbury Music Fair features footage of the execution scene performed by Jim Morrison and Robby Krieger during 'The Unknown Soldier'. Also featured in this unique performance footage is an active Jim Morrison 'clowning' around the stage. No original performance audio is known to exist from these shows, however pre-show audio is captured by Babe Hill on a Nagra during Jim Morrison's arrival for the early show.


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