“Thank you—fuck! Come up here and fuck me!”
At 68 years old, Iggy Pop still knows how to make parents nervous about sending their kids to his concerts.
On Wednesday night of SXSW Music, the Michigan-bred rock icon took the stage of the Moody Theater in downtown Austin to the thumping riff of his 1967 hit, “Lust For Life,” wearing an open blazer with nothing in the way of a shirt underneath. He was topless within minutes, and just like that it was 1977 and the entire audience was rapt, seeing a legend strutting in his prime.
As he has always managed, Pop whirled something akin to a tornado, contorting his limbs in ways that I have never even considered, mixing lewd gestures with angular thrashing, constantly kicking over his stool and mic stand. This is not a normal guy. This is a potent force of nature, raw power.
Pop’s backing band was brawny and versatile, playing new material and decades’ worth of hits. Joshua Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), who collaborated with Iggy on his brand new record, Post Pop Depression (out today), leads the band, clad in black suits. Though Homme described the band as “Iggy’s band of ding dongs” at a live taping of Homme’s Apple Music show, they were anything but. They deftly dovetailed hits from Lust for Life and The Idiot into new material, all the while giving their idol his spotlight.
Of his most well known songs (from the David Bowie era), Iggy gave powerful, gravelly, almost baritone, and at-times-sensual renditions of “Sister Midnight,” “China Girl,” “Nightclubbing,” “The Passenger,” “Repo Man,” and “Success.” Not once through this set did the rock veteran ever lose momentum. Several times throughout the night, he asked for the house lights to be turned on so he could wave to us, flip us the bird, and flirt with us. And, of course, there was a triumphant stage dive—a phenomenon that he is widely credited with popularizing.
Sure, Iggy is older now, but he is the same provocateur he has always been. During an earnest moment of stage banter, the Stooges frontman referenced a Frank Sinatra song that his father listened to frequently and said, “I want to be young at heart.” Though any fan of Pop would affirm that the almost-septuagenarian man thrashing viciously in front of them, shouting expletives for the sake of art, was certainly a young soul, there was part of of this statement that felt a little forlorn. Perhaps it was the recent passing of his good friend and collaborator David Bowie that weighed down this remark. Perhaps it was the likelihood that we were being graced by one of Iggy’s final performances. Josh Homme phrased this feeling best when he told The Guardian that Iggy Pop is “the last of the one-and-onlys.” And yet, there he was in front of us, shirtless, kicking over stage implements, and singing his fucking ass off. Iggy Pop had us all convinced of his lust for life a long, long time ago.
Featured Image: Elizabeth Wienberg
Live Images: Erika Goldring
Matt Grosinger is the Music Editor of Nerdist.