Entry for March 21, 2007

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Stooges’ Act Thrills Full House

(Just returned from a taping of the Stooges performing for Yahoo! Music’s Nissan Live Sets program. Thought I’d pull out something related that I wrote 33 years ago. Sorry for the clumsy writing style, but what the hell do you expect from a two-year old?–dd)

Decadence. The word means a lot of things to a lot of people. Monday night at the Brewery, Iggy Pop and the Stooges worked hard at making the meaning of the word much clearer. They were extremely successful.

The show was sold out in advance. Obviously, Iggy has an audience any time he plays in Michigan. Monday night’s performance was no different. The place was full, packed with rowdy people who demanded to see and hear “their” Iggy. As one of the premier rock bands to emerge from the Michigan scene, the Stooges had no difficulty in maintaining audience interest throughout the show–no trouble at all–because of a skinny man who moans, staggers, spits, jumps on tables, rolls around on the floor and threatens “make the sound system right or I’ll take off my pants!”

It was quite a show. First, the Stooges came onstage without Iggy, playing an introduction to “Raw Power.” The band consisted mostly of familiars: guitarist James Williamson, brothers Ron and Scott Asheton on bass and drums respectively and Scotty Thurston on piano. Raw is a good term–they rocked very hard. Suddenly Iggy jumped onstage and began singing, getting things started by shaking his body back and forth like some sort of screaming lunatic. The crowd loved it.

Then the real show began.

What did Iggy do? A number of things, actually. He accepted a glass of beer onstage from a girl in the audience and walked back onto her table to return it. At this point, one could see the Brewery bouncers seemed somewhat worried about Iggy’s antics. Understandably. Things did not get much better. Iggy slipped offstage while twirling the microphone stand like some sort of baton. Occasionally the stand fell into the audience. Sometimes, however, the audience fell into Iggy–one girl ran to the front of the stage to give Iggy a 60-second kiss. Not content with a mere kiss, Iggy tried to force her head down between his legs…what a showman! Several times throughout the night, the Stooges played such games with the audience, kissing and threatening them at will.

Musically speaking, the band was tremendous, with James Williamson deserving much of the credit for his truly fine guitar playing. The group performed material from Raw Power, the last album, but there was much new material. Particularly of interest was “Wet My Bed,” for obvious reasons. The group does not seem to be standing still, which is encouraging when one considers where it is standing.

Unfortunately, the show was continually plagued by a faulty sound system that eventually caused an abrupt end to the show. Several times while onstage, Iggy cursed the soundman at the board, probably not helping matters along very much. The show was finished in one set, somewhat anticlimactically, because Williamson’s amplifier head blew up. Most people, unaware of this, expected a second set and were disappointed to learn that the Ig would not return.

The hour-long show was, in any event, quite memorable.

Afterwards, in an extremely crowded dressing room, Iggy and the group revealed plans for the future. As of now, the band has no record label. Raw Power, on Columbia Records, was its last recording for that label. Apparently the group was dropped because of poor sales, which is certainly peculiar.

Iggy said that the group was not worried about another label; currently the group is negotiating with two companies. Despite poor record sales, Iggy is hot property.

Controversial shows have always been a part of the Stooges’ image. Even though Iggy didn’t get a chance to roll in his own vomit or cut his belly on broken glass, he was sufficiently “sick” to please almost everyone in the audience. There were few people in the crowd who were not open-mouthed and laughing when Iggy stuck his hands in his pants, or when he called the audience “fools.” Everyone enjoyed seeing the sweating, bruised form of Iggy, staggering about onstage while mumbling about “tales told by idiots.” This probably means a lot more than we think it does.

One question: What could he have done for an encore?

(Michigan State News, 1/23/74)

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