Iggy Pop’s stage presence is a thing of legend – his on-stage antics are almost as famous as his music. Last night, I realised a long-time dream and went along to see for myself (responsibly dragging along my 17-year-old sister. As you do.)
I’ve been a fan of Iggy & the Stooges ever since I accidentally downloaded a live version of ‘The Passenger’, back in the days of Limewire when I could actually manage to download things. I was hooked. I got my hands on every other song and devoured every article I could find.
I was very relieved when I learnt he hadn’t yet died of a heroin overdose.
Getting back to it. I bought the tickets for me and my sister way back in September, like, the second they went on sale. I’d been looking forward to this day for months. My mum kept saying, “But he’s old! Why do you want to see some old rocker?”
Because he’s awesome. That’s why.
Once we were inside the Hordern Pavillion, I made damn sure we were at the front. It was – as you might expect – an older crowd. There was a granny in front of us that looked like an shorter, older, chavvier version of my high school English teacher. A guy behind us wouldn’t shut up about how much better it was in the 80s. My sister and I kept catching each others eye and doing that mad teeth clenching and twitching thing you do when you are so excited you might die.
The lights went down. The guitar struck a chord. And Iggy, shirtless and tanned, swaggered out and snarled into the mike.
“IGGY!” I screamed, with a thousand other screams. He didn’t hear me. He was busy with ‘Cock in my Pocket’.
He screamed, he snarled, he sneered, he spat. He abused the audience and we loved it. He said everything we’d ever thought about authority. He turned the mild mannered crowd into a raging force, angry at establishments that died long ago. He stuck the microphone down his pants.
‘Raw Power’ indeed. He was just one fucking ball of amazing energy.
Iggy owned the stage and the crowd. He didn’t pander to us – he controlled us. He said “Fuck you” approximately 300 times, but it wasn’t us he was angry at. He screamed “Now I wanna” and we came back with “be your dog.” And then he decided to stop singing for a while, so we took up the mantle.
I’ve never been in a mosh pit like it. I have bruises from being bashed, was covered in sweat that was probably only 60% mine. At some point I had some guy’s afro in my face. But oh my god, it was magical.
Iggy snarled, “I wanna fuck a kangaroo.”
…and then a little while later…
“You think you have a pretty nice life here in Sydney. Well why don’t you make it a little dirty and come up here.”
Holy fuck, we screamed. The crowd surged forward. We were being invited up on stage?? At this point I was 10 metres back but NOTHING WAS GOING TO STOP ME GETTING TO IGGY.
I fought, I pushed, I snaked through people to find an opening. I climbed over a guy at the front and went headfirst over the barrier. I hoisted myself up onto the stage – which was about shoulder height – and threw out my shoulder. But nothing mattered because suddenly I WAS UP. AND THERE HE WAS.
My fucking idol. The king of punk, the inventor of the stage dive, the ex-heroin addict that told the world to go fuck itself and they still loved him.
And then he jumped off the stage and into the crowd, and they carried him far away.
I should mention some of Iggy’s stage dives. Up until this point, he’d attempted it a couple times. Every time he’d almost casually fling himself into oblivion, and every time the security guards would casually grab his ankles and pull him back. It’s like he was the five year old chucking a temper tantrum and they were the bemused but tired parents. Just another thing to worry about. Stage diving is against the rules at Hordern Pavillion, but that didn’t worry Iggy. He went for it anyway. Legend.
So there I was, rocking out on stage, and Iggy was floating off into the crowd. The only reason the security guards weren’t there to stop him was because they were too focused on us. (So many unbelievably drunk people, hyped on adrenaline, and there was a very real possibility of someone going off the stage. In fact, I nearly did.)
I got to feel like a rockstar, while Iggy was being the rockstar. I could have died so fucking happy that night.
I wonder if Iggy notices that his audience is getting older? I wonder if he sees us at all? I wonder if she wishes he was still shooting up? If it’s affected his music or his performance or whatever? Does he get stage fright? Or is it so routine it doesn’t even matter?
I wonder what he’s like when he’s chilling?
I would give so much just to chat with him for five minutes. I want to pick his brain apart and then glue it back together.
For now I’m fine just to have been in the presence of this angry ball of ridiculous energy (who sometimes likes to spit on himself.)
I just wish he’d played ‘The Passenger’.
Featured Image courtesy of the Hordern Pavillion website. The rest by me and my iPhone.