I read an interview with Steven Tyler of Aerosmith the other day; in it he was asked who he preferred- Mick Jagger or Iggy Pop. He initially chose Jagger, then reversed his decision and went for Iggy, who he called 'the essence of rock'n'roll'.
Last night I saw 'the essence of rock'n'roll' and his band The Stooges at The Royal Festival Hall- the show was part of the Meltdown Festival series of concerts organised this year by Jarvis Cocker. After a journey that could politely be described as 'fraught' (we crossed the river 3 times and Big Andy dented his new car!) we eventually made it to our seats just as Jarvis announced the band with the words 'ladies and gentlemen, please be upstanding for rock royalty- The Stooges'. And, suddenly, there they were- as Iggy put it, 'the band that never bit the weenie'. A deafening, careering 'Loose' kicked things off and Iggy's everywhere, the photographers trying in vain to keep up with him. In 'Down on the Street' he's doing something unrepeatable to the bass amps; in 'I Wanna be your Dog' he's stage-diving, much to the horror of his cowboy-shirted security man who rescues him, only for Iggy to jump straight back into the crowd. By 'No Fun' he's got 50 or 60 people dancing on stage with him- Mr. Cowboy Shirt's going mad but he needn't worry, we all love Iggy... and when he smashed a beer bottle into the mike stand during 'I'm Fried' the tension rose in a manner that I for one have rarely experienced at a rock concert. The Asheton brothers- Ron on guitar, Scott on drums- redefined the word 'relentless', Mike Watt's bass never wavered and, for the latter half of the show, Steve Mackay's saxophone swam in and out of the mix giving an almost avant-garde edge to proceedings. A crushing 'Skull Ring' finished the main set, the encores ended- everything ended- with 'Electric Chair', Iggy beyond berserk, the sound of chaos and confusion threatening to overwhelm everything and everybody. And then it was over, as suddenly as it had all began, with the almost Spinal Tap-esque sight of the band seemingly unable to find their way off-stage, as if they'd been so far away from the real world that they couldn't remember the way back again.
An astonishing show- simply one of the greatest performances I will ever see. And I have a funny feeling that every night they play, someone like me has the same problem- a head full of questions. Why do I do what I do? What do I do now? Where do I go from here?
When I find out, I'll let you know...