sat 19/10/2019

Iggy Pop and Suicide, Hammersmith Apollo | reviews, news & interviews

Iggy Pop and Suicide, Hammersmith Apollo

Iggy Pop and Suicide, Hammersmith Apollo

Car insurance man still has a heart full of napalm

Iggy Pop: 'like a chamois-leather chimpanzee with a slight paunch'

Sir Mick Jagger was not, by any means, a street fightin’ man, but his charisma and the conviction with which he sang the line, allowed us to suspend our disbelief. The song would have seemed ludicrous, pathetic even, if it had not. Iggy Pop is not, in fact, a street walkin’ cheetah with a heart full of napalm, but when he sang the immortal opening line of “Search and Destroy” last night, he embodied every word.

All Tomorrow’s Parties were celebrating five years of their Don’t Look Back events with a double bill at the Hammersmith Apollo, and had invited Iggy and the Stooges to play Raw Power and Suicide to perform their eponymous debut. While the Stooges have evolved into consummate and seasoned entertainers, Suicide remain resolutely confrontational. Their malevolent take on synth pop has proved far more influential than it has ever been widely listened to.

Alan Vega and Martin Rev are clearly still capable of making a breathtakingly awful noise. Vega directed each act of sonic cruelty with palsied, vagrant petulance as the ghastly boogie of "Johnny" and "Che" descended into dissonant throb and howling feedback. Suicide’s output makes for pretty intolerable domestic listening and a potentially gruelling live experience, but the ghoulish spectacle and colossal volume lent their music an absorbing physicality. It’s testament to the esteem in which they are held that a performance of such abrasive self-indulgence should be so warmly applauded.

The selection of Raw Power, rather than either of the Stooges’ other studio efforts was an intriguing one. Fun House is considered by many to be their best, although the band’s capsule discography is unimpeachable, to the point that a performance of any of their records would be greeted with similar fervour. The choice may have been determined by the availability of original members. Bassist Dave Alexander died in 1975 and guitarist Ron Asheton passed away last year. While both performed on The Stooges and Fun House, only Asheton contributed to Raw Power.

As an album, Raw Power is very much of its time. By 1973 Pop had relocated to London, befriended David Bowie and been seduced by glam rock, but he remained transfixed by the horror of Vietnam. It’s no coincidence the record opens with a reference to napalm: Pop had previously dodged the draft by feigning uncontrollable homosexual urges.

Taking to the stage with “Raw Power”, “Search and Destroy” and “Gimme Danger”, the Stooges sounded predatory: each track almost unrecognisably muscular in comparison with those captured on David Bowie’s notoriously anaemic mix. During “Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell”, Pop launched himself into the baying crowd, which seemed reluctant to allow him back to the stage. The band dispensed with Raw Power’s eight tracks in little more than 35 minutes, before tearing through degenerate anthem “I Wanna be Your Dog”, a breakneck “I Got a Right”, “1970” and “Funhouse”.

While the rest of the Stooges now resemble fairly ordinary middle-aged men, Iggy Pop remains a disconcerting sight. Like a chamois-leather chimpanzee, his slight paunch is the only real physical concession to his advancing years. His distinctive simian gait became more pronounced as his trousers slid past his hips, until held up only by the combined efforts of his buttocks and the base of his penis. Even after 62 hard-lived years Iggy Pop remains a compelling sight, no longer androgynous as before, nor wracked with the self-loathing of old, but insolent as ever and still flying the freak flag high.

Share this article

Comments

stupidly mis informed article.the idea of these sessions is to play through each lp.funhouse was played 4 years ago here with ron asheton on guitar.they toured for ages playing the funhouse sessions until he passed away.these sessions are totally different using the raw power lp and band.the writer seems to have little historical knowledge of what he is waxing lyrical about.why does he say..strange choice when most people think funhouse is better etcetc when that whope lp was performed extensivly during the last 5 years!!!not surprising but where oh where do they get these rich boys from.

James Osterburg is 63. His alter ego Iggy Pop never got past 20. I saw the band in 2005 and 2010 at the Hammersmith Apollo, and they made a mockery of today's pretenders on both occasions. It has taken nearly forty years for people to recognise the sheer brilliance of The Stooges, and I am very glad I was there to see it. Easily Gig Of The Year. One thing is certain, Robbie Williams won't be cutting it in 2047. Come to think of it, he doesn't cut it now....

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

Advertising feature

★★★★★

A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
The Observer, Kate Kellaway

 

Direct from a sold-out season at Kiln Theatre the five star, hit play, The Son, is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited season.

 

★★★★★

This final part of Florian Zeller’s trilogy is the most powerful of all.
The Times, Ann Treneman

 

Written by the internationally acclaimed Florian Zeller (The Father, The Mother), lauded by The Guardian as ‘the most exciting playwright of our time’, The Son is directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst.

 

Book by 30 September and get tickets from £15*
with no booking fee.