My review of Iggy Pop's gig at the Royal Albert Hall, as published by The Perfect Pop Co-op
I love the Royal Albert Hall. It’s like a rich, velvet bubble of flowing sound. Sitting up in the circle you miss out on the intensity of feeling Right There with the artist, but you have the benefit of being able to watch as though from a distance – like an out of body experience.
The lights went dark, and my breath was held in anticipation. The silence was broken as Matt Helders beat out a call to arms in the darkness; then there was Light, and there was Iggy coming to Life, baring his chest animalistically. I was disappointed to see several empty rows towards the front of the stalls. I would have gladly given up my seat to be down there in the thick of Lust for Life.
Within seconds, the first dissenters emerged: refusing to stay back, they broke from their allocated seating, and vaulted over the seats in front. One or two at first, then in a steady trickle. Before Iggy could undo his buttons, the empty rows had been filled, fluidly, like adoration being poured into a bottle.
Security didn’t stand a chance – no more than a pebble can stop a stream. "Let them up" Iggy said – giving the final say in the matter.
I have never seen Iggy Pop before. As a teenager in the 1990s, I had thought he was someone that old people liked. When I was 15, I had seen him perform on The Word and my best friend and I were shocked, and a little repulsed, by someone of his age daring to show his body. He’d undone the button on his trousers: “Oh My God it’s his pubic hair!” We had squealed, and covered our eyes.
20 years later, I am ashamed of my childish thoughts. I have come away from this gig with a lot of respect for Iggy Pop, not only as an artist and musician, but also as a philosopher and a man. What a Good guy! I have never heard someone crowd surf so politely: “Can you move me that way? I need to go back and finish the song from the stage.”
Between songs, there was a refreshing lack of talk, and when he did speak, everything he said had worth.
I totally identified with his analysis of Work: “A little evil, stress, politics – fuck off, it's Sunday!” And his introduction to Chocolate Drops roused me almost as much as the song itself:
“…A lot of good people who wanted to do something special and real with their lives…were getting fucked up through their own sensitivities or other peoples’ malevolence…everybody I think has a little voice that says to you every day of your life - I want to know, this path I’m on, does it have a heart or not?”
This gig was breathtaking, not just because of Iggy, or the exquisite venue, but also for the band: a multi-talented array of artists, valiantly holding the fort when Iggy got literally lost in the crowd; Matt Helders’ arms must have been ready to drop off. And of course, Josh Homme, whose performance was exceptional: his melting writhe as he played the first few bars of Baby hypnotised me. He wasn’t making music – he Was the music.
The music was in Us and We were the music. We were one rich, red, velvety organism, from Iggy’s deepest velvet voice to the red velvet seats we (weren’t) sat on. From the red of the ushers’ jackets and Iggy’s underwear, to the glitzy red metallic jackets the band were wearing. Everything tied together; all wrapped up in a delicious gift of dazzling sights and sounds that reverberated through my lungs. The music is my breath, and I don’t want it to stop.