mon 06/07/2020

Iggy Pop, Barbican review - proto-punk legend goes jazz sort of | reviews, news & interviews

Iggy Pop, Barbican review - proto-punk legend goes jazz... sort of

Iggy Pop, Barbican review - proto-punk legend goes jazz... sort of

A lively, nuanced set combines Iggy's new album with choice cuts from his long career

Iggy Pop at the concert's beginning, with trumpet-player Leron Thomas and the band© Emile Holba

A few years ago it would have been hard to envisage proto-punk maniac Iggy Pop being a star feature of the EFG London Jazz Festival. His last few albums, though, have been heavily flecked with jazz, and let’s not forget that as far back as The Stooges’ 1970 album Funhouse, free jazz sax squalling was part of the mayhem. Tonight doesn’t veer into that kind of transgressive noisiness but is still far more than just, as the promotion suggests, a run-through of his often elegiac latest album Free.

Once his band are onstage, including album co-creator, New York experimentalist Noveller (Sarah Lipstate), on bowed guitar, Iggy appears through the stage-back drapes. His is elegantly clad in a black suit and black shirt, his off-blond shag making him look like an ageing, elfin surfer. Throughout the gig he moves with a noticeable rolling gait, as if recovering from hip or knee issues, but it doesn’t hold him back much. The set’s first third consists of Free’s liveliest cuts which he responds to as if to a gradually rising electrical charge.

The main jazz aspect is trumpet from Leron Thomas, who played on the album. This runs the gamut from a tender, smoky interlude on slowie “Glow in the Dark” to rampaging Latin blasts on the raucous call’n’response gem “Dirty Sanchez”, a song that rails at whatever springs into Iggy’s mind (“You desensitized sluts are always playing with your butts”!). During the latter his mojo springs awake and he wiggles his arse at us to roars of approval from the crowd.

But sprinkled throughout the set are downbeat numbers. He introduces “Page” as a song about “when the glue that holds two people together is failing”. It is delivered in a cracked, broken croon. The lovely, sad “I Wanna Go to the beach” is, he tells us, derived from a spell of depression, and “The Dawn” seems to be the insomniac meditations of a 72-year-old man very much aware of his own mortality. These songs are affecting, but he has other, louder treats in store.

Rather than play his most famous songs, Iggy calculates, correctly, that this is a crowd of devotees, and he lets loose with seldom and never played numbers from his back catalogue. The stone-cold 1977 classic “Nightclubbing” is there - he dedicates it to trawling around Europe 45 years ago in David Bowie’s entourage, - but so is “Mass Production” and “Sister Midnight” from the same album (The Idiot). The relentless riffage of The Stooges' “Death Trip” makes an appearance and gives Iggy an excuse to descend into the crowd where he’s soon surrounded by his adoring public, pawing at his stomach, shaking his hand.

For Ig geeks (like this writer!) it’s an unexpected pleasure to hear the likes of “Run Like a Villain”, from his underrated avant-punk 1982 album Zombie Birdhouse, and the stomping “Five Foot One” from 1979’s New Values. It’s telling, however, that he doesn’t close on one of his own. Iggy is still thrilled by new music, as any listener to his BBC Radio 6 show will know, and he closes with “People Places Parties”, which is his spin on the song “Chop Chop Chop” by Nottingham rabble-rousers Sleaford Mods. Over a riff akin to The Modern Lovers’ “Roadrunner” on serious steroids, he tells us this his is “rock’n’roll autobiography” and each verse is, indeed, a scurrilous anecdote from his debauched past, before we all join in to shout the “People Places Parties” chorus.

But that isn’t quite the end. Iggy goes off but he comes back on again twice, alone, after the encore. The first time he yells something incomprehensible, kicks over the mic stand, then screeches “Fuck!” three times. The second time he stands stage-front and grins at us, that wonderful grin which blares from the front of the Lust for Life album. And he tells us, “Thank you so much. You’re my friends.”

We trawl out into the rainy night thus beatified.

Below: Watch 50 recent minute live at Maida Vale BBC 6 Music Iggy Pop performance and interview

The relentless riffage of The Stooges' “Death Trip” makes an appearance and Iggy descends into the crowd, surrounded by his adoring public, pawing at his stomach, shaking his hand


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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