Royal Albert Hall might not be a venue you would associate with someone with Iggy Pop’s rough and rugged reputation. But, from an artistic point of view, it’s strange, he hasn’t played here sooner. Aged 69, Iggy is an absolute music legend and has inspired more rock bands than many of the more ‘respectable’ rock stars out there.
Maybe he’s not conventionally respectable, but he’s undoubtedly respected. The Godfather of Punk has long been more polite than his image suggests. He is proper rock and roll royalty – so for tonight, let’s rename the venue Royal Rock House.
Every seat is sold out at the Royal Rock House this evening. Iggy is touring his latest album, Post Pop Depression, released shortly after his old friend David Bowie’s death in January. As reviews have been quick to point out, the record stylistically and sonically revisits that particular time pocket Iggy and Bowie spent together in Berlin in the mid-late seventies.
Josh Homme, Dean Fertita and Troy van Leeuwen from Queens of the Stone Age, Matt Sweeney from Chavez, and Arctic Monkeys-drummer Matt Helders, create a swinging, hard-hitting soundscape for Iggy to paint his vocal strokes all over. A new song from Post Pop Depression, Gardenia is sandwiched in between Berlin classics like Nightclubbing and The Passenger. The tunes sit so well together they may as well have been part of the same recording session though they were recorded almost forty years apart. Though Sir Pop’s crispy-tanned, battered, wrinkly body and face couldn’t pass for someone in his 20’s or 30’s, his voice and his attitude take us right back to his prime – which in its own way, means that tonight, on this tour, touring this record, right now is his prime.
It’s worth noting that 69-year-old Iggy spends approximately as much time among the audience as he does on stage; stage diving, crowd surfing, and merely walking out among his disciples. During Fall In Love With Me, he even performs what can only be described as a victory lap, jumping down from the stage and making his way through the crowd in a horseshoe crown until making his way back on stage to finish the song. He passes close enough to touch, and most people reach out to cop a feel of the passing Popster – ‘cos who knows if we’ll ever get the chance to do so again.
As a performing artist, Iggy Pop makes himself available and approachable to his audience – he thrives on it. He acknowledges the interaction between performer and spectator. He wants to be a spectator too and wants the crowd to be performers alongside him, not just an adoring herd bleating their admiration in his general direction.
The group strut, duck-walk and beat the hell out of the songs, from the iconic introductory, pulsating beat of Lust For Life to the final song, Success, with its lines, ‘Here comes success…I’m gonna go out on the street and do anything I want.’ And as far as song titles go, the evening could not have been bookended better; a group of musicians with a lust for life, playing their asses off, reminding us that success is there for all of us – all we have to do is go out on the street and do whatever we want.
Iggy Pop setlist
1. Lust for Life
2. Sister Midnight
3. American Valhalla
5. In the Lobby
6. Some Weird Sin
10. German Days
11. Mass Production
14. The Passenger
15. China Girl
16. Break Into Your Heart
17. Fall In Love With Me
18. Repo Man
20. Chocolate Drops