If you are not convinced that that the 1981 Target Video “Iggy Pop San Francisco 1981” is one of the greatest live captures of unbridled rock and roll energy I will fight you. The concert features Pop blasting through old favorites, and some new material, backed by part of one of the biggest and most road-honed bands of its time, Blondie. If this has a vaguely familiar sound to you, it should – it is essentially the same trope utilized for the latest Iggy Pop album/tour, Post Pop Depression – Only this time, he is backed by members loosely surrounding Queens of the Stone Age.
Like the 1981 set, the Post Pop Depression set aimed at cementing a particular era of Iggy Pop’s career in the hearts of the audience. While Punk was still fresh in 1981, and the set was a scorching attempt at cementing Pop as the godfather of punk, last night’s (March 29, 2016) set cast Pop’s 70s Berlin-era career as the vanguard of dark, pounding, avant garde pop cool. In this re-examination, the set heavily favored the first two Iggy Pop solo albums, The Idiot (represented by six songs), and Lust for Life (with seven songs), the set was rounded off with performing Post Pop Depression almost in full (minus the song “Vulture”), and one of the evening’s highlights a scorching version of the title song to the film Repo Man.
Songs off Post Pop Depression were masterfully woven into the set, and in only two occasions where two songs from the album played back to back – once in the main set, and once in the encore. “German Days” ushered in a four song swansong of the Berlin years ending the set with “Mass Production, a version of “Nightclubbing” featuring Josh Homme’s most notable guitar contribution, “The Passenger” and “China Girl” creating a story arc of Pop’s most fruitful songwriting period.
While much of Pop’s Berlin era recordings are dark and brooding with ample amounts of swagger, the Post Pop Depression re-cast adds a heavier underpinning due in large part to Josh Homme and co’s background. The rhythm section of Arctic Monkeys‘ Matthew Helders, and indie rock’s secret-weapon Matt Sweeney, provided a nimble-yet primal heavy bottom for the, often, three guitar interchange of Queens of the Stone Age Homme, Troy Van Leeuwen, and Death Weather‘s Dean Fertita. This interplay was best displayed by the set’s climax “China Girl” with triple harmonic guitars over a rumbling rhythm (see video below). The manner in which the band played Pop off stage was a master class in rock staging.
The Post Pop Depression tour is one of the best stagings I have witnessed in some time. With the minimal lighting, relying heavily on LEDs, and a infinite white strip separating the stage, the band made great use of the stage’s space and turned the stage into part of the show as a whole. Beginning the set dressed in red silk tuxedo jackets, the band hit the opening bars of “Lust for Life” before announcing, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Iggy Pop.” Iggy took the stage in a black tuxedo, but wasted little time dispensing of the jacket to display his trademarked shirtless performance attire (or lack there of). Pop made use of the walk way to pile through a set in a manner that only acts like James Brown or Frank Sinatra have been capable of – only this time with a frenetic energy of an aging proto-punk.
Of course there may be detractors who will comment that Pop’s body isn’t what it once was, and that he wasn’t as crazy as he once was – and to this I suggest that there is a slight bit of agism in this critique. For a man rapidly approaching 70 (Iggy was born in 1947), a matter of perspective is in order. With middle fingers flying, Pop still provided solid vocal performance, entertained a packed auditorium all the while dancing, humping speakers, and stage diving. Perhaps, like some interviews suggest, he is keenly aware of his age – and Post Pop Depression may be a final victory lap telling everyone, I am Iggy – I still have the goods. In this light, Pop with band in tow proved that Pop is every bit as vital in 2016 as he was in 1981, or 1969.
Iggy Pop, Post Pop Depression, Keller Auditorium, March 29, 2016 Setlist:
Lust for Life (Lust for Life)
Sister Midnight (The Idiot)
American Valhalla (Post Pop Depression)
Sixteen (Lust for Life)
In the Lobby (Post Pop Depression)
Some Weird Sin (Lust for Life)
Funtime (The Idiot)
Tonight (Lust for Life)
Sunday (Post Pop Depression)
German Days (Post Pop Depression)
Mass Production (The Idiot)
Nightclubbing (The Idiot)
The Passenger (Lust for Life)
China Girl (The Idiot)
Break into Your Heart (Post Pop Depression)
Fall in Love with Me (Lust for Life)
Repo Man (Repo Man Soundtrack)
Gardenia (Post Pop Depression)
Baby (The Idiot)
Chocolate Drops (Post Pop Depression)
Paraguay (Post Pop Depression)
Success (Lust for Life)