Iggy and the Stooges
Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011
Better than: Mickey Mouse in a bar brawl.
For someone with such an intimidating background and such ample chest muscles, Iggy Pop bounds rather adorably onto the concert stage. Sunday night at the Warfield, as the lights went out and the initial blast of "Raw Power" hit like the first swing in a drunken fistfight, Iggy Pop came bounding -- yes, a careening blend of bouncing and running -- out to his public, surly and of course shirtless, but also somewhat like an enthusiastic cartoon bunny. Pop then proceeded to shake, jump, twist, flail, fall, run, taunt, flirt, hug, stage dive (or stage fall -- no fewer than five times), and shout his way through an hour of rock assault.
Since Iggy and the Stooges were one of the first American bands to fit rock music to the shape of undiluted male aggression, Pop's shouting worked just fine. He practically had to shout to be heard over the bristling curtain of noise from his three-piece band, which included original Stooges guitarist James Williamson. And with the night's focus clearly on Raw Power (not the feeling, but the Stooges album), Pop was right to wrench his sometimes flirtatious snarl into a confrontational bark for most of the show.
But -- and this one thing that doesn't come through much on either version of Raw Power -- Pop's persona is not without its softer sides. Having seen so much of the man outside of this blistering proto-punk band over the years, it's hard not to view the Stooges singer as more of a complex, deliberate provocateur than a clumsy misanthrope.
Shirtless idol of self-immolation is just one arrow in Pop's quiver. In between songs, he played the erudite professor, or the tart older brother, fronting for our amusement. "We're the Stoooooooges," he reminded us, deadpan, after three songs. "Thanks for showing up." I was waiting for an "Aw, shucks," or for Iggy to perhaps hock a loogie onto his sneaker. Surely this was a different man from the one who wrote "Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell." (Although he inhabited the angry voice of that song when the time came.)
Perhaps the most revealing moment came during "Shake Appeal," when Pop invited a mass of audience members onto the stage, then strolled around them, high-fiving and hugging, like the hero of the football team. Look! The guy singing about danger and penetration and wanting to be your dog is actually really nice! And he even said positive things about you all afterward!