ARTSY: Night Of The Igguana

Iggy Pop Poster


Like all things Iggy, this is undeniably badass.

PREVIOUSLY: There may well be a sound more thrilling than the tub-thumping opening salvo of Iggy Pop’s “Lust For Life,” but after five decades of listening closely I’ve yet to hear it. When that song starts, stillness is simply not an option. Resistance is futile. It’s a showstopper, which is why it’s usually the last song of the night. So when Iggy (known to his mother as James Newell Osterberg Jr.) kicked off his concert at the Academy Of Music last night with it, the question hanging in the air was: How could he possibly top this?

The answer to that question was a stellar two hour set comprised almost entirely of songs from 1977’s classic twofer Lust For Life and The Idiot, the pair of albums he made with David Bowie in Berlin, and his latest and possibly last album, Post Pop Depression, a striking collaboration with Queens Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme that, 39 years later, effectively completes the trilogy.

Iggy was backed by a crack five piece band led by Homme on guitar and backing vocals, fellow QOTSA-ers Dean Fertita and Troy Van Leeuwen providing additional six string firepower, the Arctic Monkeys’ Matt Helders on drums, and hipster Zelig Matt Sweeney on bass, all dressed suavely in matching burgundy smoking jackets.

The set list blended ultra-catchy signature songs like “Some Weird Sin,” “China Girl” and “The Passenger” with dark and deep cuts from the Bowie years, like the frazzled electronica of “Nightclubbing” and the sepulchral lurch of “Mass Production.”

Eight of Post Pop Depression’s nine tracks were performed, persuasively I might add. Highlights included the billowing Johnny Marr-sian arpeggios of “Gardenia,” the stomping doo-wop-for-delinquents of “Paraguay,” and “German Days,” a mournful evocation of his time at Hansa Studios with the Thin White Duke. The only outlier was a snarling, amphetamine-paced rendition of “Repo Man.”

At 68, Iggy’s still worth a million in prizes. He’s still one part noble savage and two parts idiot-savant, still The Man That No Shirt Can Hold. His dank, leathery croon remains undiminished but five decades of being rock n’ roll’s human cannonball have clearly taken their toll. No longer the street-walking cheetah with a heartful of napalm of yore, Iggy roamed the Academy stage with a club-footed stagger, motoring like a muscle car with a bad tire.

Still, he remains an unstoppable force of nature, and last night he hurled himself into the crowd repeatedly. And after nearly 70 years of living dangerously, he remains an unrepentant hellion. At the close of an electrifying 22-song set, Iggy gazed out at the vast gilded splendor of the Academy and declared: “This is my night at the opera, motherfuckers.” — JONATHAN VALANIA