Festival Hall, Melbourne VIC
April 21st, 2019
One of my greatest memories is from the Melbourne leg of the 2011 Big Day Out festival. The mercury was well over 40 degrees and I was melting on the barrier of the mainstage, waiting for Iggy and the Stooges to explode onto the stage and blow the audiences’ minds. And explode they did, with Iggy Pop bounding out and leading The Stooges in what could only be considered a masterclass performance of punk rock. Witnessing one of music’s greatest living acts perform live is one thing but the real kicker came four songs in during ‘Shake Appeal’, when Iggy invited the crowd onstage to party. The next thing I knew, I had jumped the barrier, climbed up on stage, and found myself face to face with Iggy Pop. Every line on Iggy’s face was within a few inches of mine. I remember giving him a massive grin and him giving me one back. It was one of the most surreal moments of my life, and something I’ll never forget.
While The Stooges may have disbanded for good now, Iggy Pop has no intention of slowing down. Back in Melbourne town for a Bluesfest sideshow, Festival Hall is absolutely packed tonight for the great man’s performance. With the show coincidentally falling on Iggy Pop’s 72nd birthday, there was a genuine sense of real celebration in Festival Hall tonight, not just for Iggy’s music, but for the man himself who pioneered and has championed punk rock music for over five decades. The crowd is as diverse as it gets; on one hand, you had your punk rock veterans trading stories over beers, and on the other, you had the younger Gen Z folk hanging onto the barrier on the floor, who have no doubt grown up listening to their parents’ record collections and subsequently made an excellent life choice to buy a ticket to tonight’s show. Together, they filled the venue to capacity for a night we won’t soon forget.
As the lights slowly dimmed in time to a piece of eerie, droning string music reminiscent of the ‘Psycho’ theme composed by Bernard Herrmann (If you don’t know him, look him up; he’s the genius responsible for some of the greatest musical scores in cinema history), the anticipation in the room built to a crescendo before Iggy Pop appeared on stage with his band and jumped straight into a two-punch of Stooges’ classics ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ and ‘Gimme Danger’. At this point in the night, I was down in the photo pit with my camera, so it was an absolute blast to be this close to Iggy again as he climbed down to the floor to be amongst the crowd. Having to quickly leave the venue to cloak my camera gear meant that I missed ‘The Passenger’ and the first minute or so of ‘Lust for Life’, but upon re-entering the venue and finding a great spot to stand and watch from the bleachers, it was nothing but a non-stop party for the rest of the night.
The core set consisted of cuts from Iggy’s solo albums Lust for Life and The Idiot, with plenty of songs by The Stooges bulking out the set for good measure. It’s also no secret that Iggy Pop and David Bowie had one of the greatest friendships of all time, so it was both bittersweet and heart-warming to hear Iggy cover ‘The Jean Genie’ in tribute of Bowie. For a brief moment, you could feel the presence of The Starman in the room, and you just know that he would have been proud of his friend.
Being Iggy Pop’s birthday, it also was fantastic to see his band, along with Henry Rollins, lead the crowd in a birthday sing-a-long, complete with confetti cannons. There was also the inevitable stage invasion instigated by Iggy later in the set, which got a little chaotic, with what looked like about fifty fans squeezing on stage to try and get as close to their hero as possible. Security looked like they were having an absolute meltdown trying to control the scene, but honestly, what did they expect? It was awesome to see that some things in an Iggy Pop show never change.
Rounding out the set with a sublime cover of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ ‘Red Right Hand’, a “local Melbourne song” as Iggy put it, tonight we simply could not get enough of Iggy Pop. As the band left the stage, Iggy jumped down to the crowd to thank his fans personally, travelling along the barrier in an effort to get to as many people as possible. Making his way back on stage for one final goodbye but an assurance that he’ll be back as soon as possible, I thought to myself that amongst all the sweaty chaos and spilt beer, we simply couldn’t have asked for a better show from one of music’s greatest living treasures.
Happy birthday to the Godfather of Punk, Iggy Pop! Long may you show us all how it’s done!