THE SOFT PARADE PRESENTS
a Powerful Procession of Songs from The Doors
A SoundPress.net Feature Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

The Soft Parade has now begun. The year was 1990 when vocalist Joe Russo - who looked a lot like Jim Morrison - decided to form the ultimate Doors tribute band. The group named after the epic song replicates the poetic and primal elements of a Doors concert. They use vintage amps and instruments to mirror the distinctive tones of the original Doors.

The Soft Parade Presents a Powerful Procession of Songs from The Doors
The Soft Parade takes the stage at the bergenPAC in Englewood, New Jersey.

The Doors were founded in 1965 when Jim Morrison shared lyrics with fellow film student Ray Manzarek. They formed a quartet that quickly enjoyed major success in the late 1960's. It all came to an abrupt end when Jim mysteriously died in Paris, France in 1971. The Doors remained popular thanks to classic rock radio which in turn allowed The Soft Parade to form almost 20 years after Morrison's passing. Funny how the future can be uncertain as The Soft Parade has had a longer tenure than The Doors to whom they pay tribute to.

The Soft Parade have become masters of their craft. They have toured 20 countries, performing at a number of major festival including Bonnaroo and the 25th Anniversary of Woodstock. The Soft Parade marched into the bergenPAC in Englewood, New Jersey on December 13, 2013.

Similar to clips that we have seen of Doors' concerts the set-up at the bergenPAC was stark with a dark curtain and period gear. The ceremony began as the three instrumentalists took the stage. All had the clothes and hair cuts of their counter-parts in The Doors. Combined with shadowy lighting the resemblance to the originals was effective. Joe Russo as Jim Morrison was wearing a hat and a suede jacket that made us think of the Morrison Hotel period.

They opened with the lesser known but daring "Do It" that established the tone for an interesting set list of epics, hits, poetry with a few twists and turns. Next, was the bluesy "Back Door Man" with the keys adding bold bass lines to the piece. Sticking with a seductive mood the band performed a teasing "Twentieth Century Fox" and "Love Me Two Times". On the latter they layered the instrumentation putting their own Doors-sounding spin into the song.

"What do you want to hear," inquired Russo thus creating a bit of a ruckus as the audience shouted out an array of ideas. The Soft Parade decided on "Gloria" a cover from the band Them that The Doors had made their own. Tonight's version was true to form with its racy rap punctuated by wavy guitar leads.

Joe added percussion to a number of songs perhaps more precisely then Jim would have. Russo was not as erratic as Morrison was known to be but Joe was convincing in gestures and vocally in the role of the charismatic lead singer. The rest of the band was also similar sounding to John, Ray and Robbie remaining in Doors mode as they improvised.

The Soft Parade Presents a Powerful Procession of Songs from The Doors
The Soft Parade open the doors of perception in Bergen County.

After a sassy "We Could Be So Good Together" they moved into a memorizing version of "When The Music's Over" adding a few of their own nuances before flowing into "The Soft Parade" which also had innovations melded into the mix. "Riders On The Storm" traveled down trippy terrain with the sound of a storm blended in as the group jammed. "Awake" from American Prayer was dramatic poetry that glided into a rousing "Roadhouse Blues".

After a short break The Soft Parade was back with "Break On Through", "Don't You Love Her Madly", "WASP Texas Radio". The pairing of "People Are Strange" and "Strange Days" was haunting with the keys contributing a carnival vibe to the tracks. "Alabama Song" was animated and "Touch Me" worked well even without a horn section.

"Not to Touch The Earth" was frantic with fans on their feet moving to instrumentation that gave one the feeling of running. "Spanish Caravan" was a fine opportunity for guitarist Joe Bilotti to shine solo before the band joined in adding elements that also had the effect of movement. "Peace Frog" was potent. They closed the concert with an expansive "Light My Fire".

The Soft Parade performed a career spanning set of Door's classics along with some surprises. They were effective in capturing the mood and music of a Door's concert. Drummer Roy Weinberger approached his Ludwig drums with the same jazz influenced stylings crafted by John Densmore. Keyboardist Mike Able aptly handled his Gibson keyboard and Fender piano bass to echo the emotions that Ray Manzarek once conveyed. Guitarist Joe Bilotti played his Gibson SG in ways that captured the unearthly and unusual sounds that Robby Kreiger created.

The bergenPAC is centrally located in the bustling downtown of Englewood, New Jersey. The theater continues to host a wide range of shows such as The Soft Parade. Upcoming events at the bergenPAC include Gary U.S. Bond with John Eddie, Rosanne Cash, A Christmas Carol, Robert Randolph, Dave Mason, The NJ Symphony, Martin Sexton, Kelli Rabke Agresta, Billy Blagg, Michael Schenker, Rusted Root with Donna The Buffalo.

The Soft Parade Presents a Powerful Procession of Songs from The Doors

Related Links: For more information on THE SOFT PARADE and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - The Soft Parade | bergenPAC.org

(Originally Published on December 15, 2013)

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