Channeling the charismatic Jim Morrison, the former front man of The Doors who passed away more than 40 years ago, requires nothing less than energy, presence, and a trance-like focus. For Tony Dee, this is non-negotiable.
As the singer of ‘Absolutely Live- The Doors Show’ for more than 20 years, Dee has walked Morrison’s walk literally, and portrays the late singer with such commitment that you’d think you were listening to the real thing. About to hit The Gov in Adelaide for the first time ever, Absolutely Live is a trip back to the psychedelic sixties and although there may not be the same acid crazed mania (or maybe there will?), the show promises to have the audience expect the unexpected.
Dee is Morrison incarnate, and as we chat he is having his morning coffee with a shot of Jack Daniels (or so he tells me). He’s cool, laid back, and has the rock star attitude yet is far from arrogant or difficult. He articulates his points in an almost poetic manner, and like any true artist, he truly believes in his product.
“The turnouts for the show are phenomenal. We met Ray Manzarek (the late keyboard player for the Doors) in 1997 and he said to us that ‘you guys really do become the Doors.’ We spent the night drinking and talking about the band & Doors concerts. He was actually my mentor, advising me. It was absolutely brilliant, something that you never forget.” Manzarek had heard about the Absolutely Live Show whilst in Australia promoting a book and ended up spending the evening with Dee. You couldn’t ask for a better endorsement or experience than that!
Dee became attracted to The Doors almost by accident, after drifting over to Morrison’s style whilst in a cover band. One night they dedicated a show completely to The Doors and people’s reactions were so positive and favourable they went with it’ “We were the first band in Australia to do a tribute of this kind”, says Dee. “The Doors are a powerful metamorphosis of freedom and expression, that’s their music, and the songs we play are celebrating that.”
Jim Morrison was often unpredictable, and self-admittedly tested the bounds of reality to see how far he could go on stage, which ultimately got him arrested. He also took things to the extreme in his personal life, ultimately contributing to his untimely death in 1971 from heart failure. Referring to Morrison’s modus operandi on stage, Dee says “my theory on stage is basically to ‘break on through to the other side’ like Morrison, which the audience wants to see and feel.” And that he does. Having seen Absolutely Live in the late 90’s, it is a wild ride that embodies the spirit of The Doors concerts ever so faithfully.
In ‘Absolutely Live’, the psychedelic experience is enhanced by projections behind the band, making it also a multi-media experience, which the original lineup no doubt would have gravitated to had they endured the tech-limited sixties. “People get lost in it, sometimes I look at the audience and think WOW, this is intense,” Dee says. “You’ve got to be unpredictable to be true to The Doors music, and I channel Jim Morrison up there. Sometimes I really do feel his presence onstage, and people want to see that. We just go with it and let it happen on the night.”
I ask Dee who comes to hear The Doors’ music these days, whether it’s ageing stoners/sixties survivors reliving their glory days, and the answer is quite unexpected. “The crowd has changed a lot, when we first started it was mostly hippies coming out but now it’s about 80% young people experimenting and trying to find a different escape, much like the sixties, and they know every word to the songs!”
The Doors’ music is timeless, poetic, often intricate, yet hard to pigeonhole into a specific genre. They encompass blues, jazz, soul, and of course rock. They represent a time of uncertainty, of awakening, and of a generation desperate for something different. The Doors were that medium and they cemented their place as music Gods. We’ll never see the likes of the original Doors again (only Robby Krieger and John Densmore are alive) but Absolutely Live give their all to keep the flame well and truly burning with their tribute to an incredible musical group that broke the rules.
Absolutely Live, The Doors Show promises to set the night on fire at The Gov this Friday 26th June, so break on through and get stoned immaculate- this is a one show only deal!
Interviewed by Darren Hassan
Friday 26th June 2015 | 7.30pm The Gov, ADELAIDE SA www.thegov.com.au
For more information, please visit www.thedoorsshow.com