18 April 2016

Iggy's Night at the Opera

There are rock 'n roll acts. There are legends. There are rock legends. And then there's Iggy Pop. 

Forget what you may think about aging rockers from the '60s & '70s riding a nostalgia wave to a golden parachute. Iggy self-financed the new album, Post Pop Depression, with Josh Homme. The resulting tour has two legs with thirty nine stops in North America and Europe.  Iggy doesn't half-ass anything, and definitely not something as important and vital as a rock concert. Iggy and his band brought everything they had in Philadelphia April 15, and the crowd, we couldn't get enough.

The Academy of Music is a peculiar choice for an Iggy Pop concert, the first man to conjure up the stage-dive playing a Vienna opera house.  The accommodations were quite luxurious, resulting in a lot of fish-out-of-water visuals as Iggy's longtime punk fans filed in. The show began with five minutes of afrobeat tribal drumming that crescendoed into the ostentatiously adorned velvet curtains opening to four-man band dressed in matching red and black tuxes blasting the unmistakable beat of Lust For Life.

Pushing sixty-nine years old, Iggy came out skipping wildly -- adorned in suit pants and jacket but no shirt -- immediately taking complete control of the crowd.  By the time he hit Sixteen the jacket was off and Iggy was in his classic shirtless form.  At no other musical concert, save for perhaps saxophone virtuoso Sonny Rollins, did I experience an artist have everyone in the crowd hypnotized, fully in awe of his raw power and artistic prowess. 

Iggy was a total maniac. He leapt upon a large man during Some Weird Sin knocking the guy off his feet. Iggy quickly jumped up roaring, "Rock & Roll!" During Nightclubbing, he sauntered over to a stack of speakers, looked them over for a moment, and started in on humping them with sincere seduction. Watching Iggy I sensed a total freedom, a rock 'n roll euphoria that might have originated decades ago, but its power and affectation is timeless and eternal.

Josh Homme, Dean Fertita, Matt Helders, Matt Sweeney, and Troy Van Leeuwen, were tight, raw, and loud.  Watching them have a ball playing behind Iggy made the festivities that much more raucous. They played practically the entire catalogue from Lust For Life and The Idiot, notable exceptions being Dum Dum Boys and Tiny Girls.  Interestingly, Iggy stayed away completely from his Stooges oeuvre, out of respect for the deceased members? Perhaps, but he didn't touch Kill City either, and James Williamson is still alive and well. The playing was fresh and urgent, the volume loud and guitars set on dirty.  Iggy crooned, shrieked, chanted, and cursed.

Iggy unleashed his tornado of sex, rock 'n roll, and the unbridled joy of perfect freedom: he spent entire songs in the crowd, touching people, letting them touch him. He commanded, "Turn that fucking spotlight off of me, turn the fucking house lights on. I wanna see everybody! Because I fucking said so!" He danced, he twirled, he spit, he flung the microphone around, he led everyone in a manic "Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck" chant.

Before closing with a rousing version of Success, Iggy sneered, "It's my fucking night at the opera, baby!"  It certainly was; I'll never look at opera with the same eyes again.