Saturday, July 28, 2007


Fuji Rock 2007: Part 9
Iggy and The Stooges

I’m a huge Iggy Pop fan, so this was always going to be the highlight of Fuji Rock for me. Even if - at sixty - Iggy shows signs of slowing down, he’s still one of the most exciting performers going.

The crowd is stoked and yelling “IggGeeeEEE!” as the lights go down. And then...HERE HE IS! Er, I mean here they are. It's Iggy AND The Stooges, on their world reunion tour, dontcha know.
That's right, punk. This is the LEGENDARY IGGY & THE STOOGES, who recorded three of the most cataclysmic rock LPs of all time in Stooges, Fun House and Raw Power.

My eyes fill with tears as James Newell Osterberg takes the stage. He looks beautiful as he explodes from the wings, jumping and preening like a teenager. I'm aware that I'm hopping up and down, waving my arms and screaming in a most unbecoming fashion, but whaddya expect? - it's my hero Iggy Pop, the godfather of punk. He's sixty, and he’s come for your daughters....and your wives.... and your grandma too.

Iggy immediately starts to fuck the bass player's amp. Looks like it's gonna be one of those nights.

The band launch into the no-nonsense punk classics which made their name: No Fun, 1969, 1970, I Wanna Be Your Dog, Dirt, Loose,TV Eye, Real Good Time. They're all there and to my overexcited ears The Stooges shake appeal remains intact.

At one point Iggy falls from the stage and after lying motionless for what seems like an eternity returns with a noticeable limp. A few minutes later he jumps off stage again and is hilariously prevented from climbing back on by a clueless security guy who thinks he's a fan. All par for the course for an Iggy show.

But then something strange happens. Five numbers in, after the initial feeling of euphoria has subsided, the band starts to lose the plot. Drummer Scott Asheton is sluggish and out of time, and guitarist Ron Asheton looks completely lost, like a biker who inadvertently took a wrong turn trying to find the beer tent. Bassist Mike Watt is awesome and edgy, but he's carrying the older dudes.

Could be The Stooges are jetlagged, or maybe they've been partying hard, but it all seems kinda routine. Iggy's leaping around half-crazed, as is his wont, but there's a look on his face like the band suck tanite and maybe this reunion thing wasn't such a hot idea.

In an effort to pump some life into the proceedings Iggy engineers a stage invasion, inviting fans to jump the barriers and join him in the spotlight. Before you know it there are three hundred Japanese on stage, most of them young enough to be Iggy's grandkids. They don't know why they're up there, but they're having a ball, wearing the Stooges t-shirts they bought yesterday and trying to grab a piece of Iggy.

It all seems unbridled and spontaneous until I remember that Iggy did the same thing two weeks prior at the Glastonbury festival. And that amp-fucking: didn't I see photos of him doing that at Glastonbury too?

Stage invasion - Iggy-style

I start to wonder if it's dignified for a 60 year-old man to be singing the punk anthems he wrote when he was 19. Or getting it on with guitar amplifiers. And what about me? Should I even be egging him on and hollerin' up a storm along with 30,000 Japanese fans?

But this is dumb-ass punk-rock man. It ain’t about dignity, it’s about letting go, BEING ALIVE to the POSSIBILITIES, prostrating yourself on the altar of rock ‘n’ roll and yelling “IggggyYY!” and going "YeaaarrrGgHH!"

And Iggy - this stupendous star whose records changed my life - does it better than anyone, so who am I to argue? Him and Ron and Scott and Mike are alive and rockin', and that's a miracle in itself.

Anyway the band seem to have recovered their groove, and the set cruises along to a triumphant conclusion. The encore is I Wanna be Your Dog, which they've already played once. Are they gonna do one more? No. It's over. The sound man is playing New Order again.

Well, we did it. We came, we hollered like a bunch of teenagers, we saw the legend. And if there was nothing spontaneous or edgy about the show, what did we expect? Iggy's an old man now, and I'm getting old too. He's got nothing to prove to me or anyone else and I'll play his records and love him till I die. His showbiz smile at the end says it all: another stage invasion, another yen. It's only rock 'n' roll, but Iggy's still the greatest, looniest punk there ever was. 

Dinner: Deluxe beef kebab. 9 out of 10.


Rainman said...

Your right. He's getting in, but he still rocks.

Rainman said...

I had mixed feelings about The Stooges' act, too. As you suggested, there was a lot of showbiz mixed in there.