"Our set was subdued but very intense," recalled organist Ray Manzarek. "We played with a controlled fury and Jim was in fine vocal form. He sang for all he was worth, but moved nary a muscle. Dionysus had been shackled."
That's a pretty true statement from the late organist of The Doors describing their historic set at the equally legendary Isle of Wight Festival in front of over 600,000 people in 1970. The festival was also noteworthy for a slew of other high profile performances, including The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Jethro Tull, Ten Years After, and many others. For this set from The Doors, which, has been many years in the making for its official release, it marks a time that was pretty close to the 'the end' of their career with Jim Morrison, who would be dead within a year after taking a short exile in Paris. The Isle of Wight appearance also happened to take place in what was a turbulent time period for the singer, as he was in the middle of his public obscenity trial from the infamous night in Miami the year prior. Eagle Rock have presented here the full hour+ show on both CD/Blu-ray and CD/DVD sets, and it's easily the best this performance are ever going to look or sound. In truth, Isle of Wight isn't the most captivating Doors performance you'll ever see or hear. For the entire set, the band are awash in red light, so it's pretty dark on stage and not well lit by any means. Morrison is also extremely subdued throughout, basically standing at the microphone with his eyes closed and hardly moving from that spot, not even uttering a word to the audience in between any of the songs. It's a far cry from the explosive, drunken Morrison performances of legend, but to his credit his vocals here are some of the best you will ever witness, despite his lack of energy. This is not the earlier 'dangerous' Doors, but a more mature band who were teetering on the brink of collapse. Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, and John Densmore were all in fine form, with both Manzarek & Krieger taking extended solos on a fine "Light My Fire". "The End" is pretty anticlimactic, a far cry from renditions of old where it brought the house down as the last song, instead "When the Music's Over" from the middle of the set is the real highlight here (and slightly prophetic) , with a wailing Morrison and some fine guitar work from Krieger driving their classic epic. "Break on Through (To the Other Side)" is also well done, showing that the band could still rock hard at this stage in their career.
Sadly, this was to be the last filmed performance of The Doors, and while it might not be their best, it's easily their most unique. Another fine release from the folks at Eagle Rock.
"Break on Through (To the Other Side)"
"When the Music's Over"
"Ship of Fools"
"Light My Fire"
"The End (medley): Across The Sea/Away in India/Crossroads Blues/Wake Up"