What were the odds that two rock icons would play shows for two consecutive days in my close neighborhood? Just a day after seeing Debbie Harry’s triumph at the Greek theater, I got the chance to see Iggy Pop with the Losers at the Regent Theatre. I have seen Iggy a few times, but I had never been that close to the stage for an entire show. The Regent is a very small venue (around 1000-seat capacity) and I managed to stay front row the entire time, despite the expected rowdiness of a very excited crowd in awe with the father of punk. I saw everything: his shaggy blonde hair, his still very blue eyes, his Miami-sun-tanned and rippled body, the vein that furrows his left chest, and the malicious smile he sometimes makes when looking at us before a song… “This is incredibly old, like me!” he joked before “Nightclubbing.”
Sure, Iggy Pop is what we would call old, as a matter of fact, he just turned 76 on April 21 and we all sang “happy birthday” to his face during the show. However, he exults more energy than many 25 or 30-year-olds I know. On stage, he is still restless despite his limping, and he is still a crazy performer, even though he has given up on stage diving a few years ago. But who could blame him, he invented stage diving.
His 2022 and nineteenth album, “Every Loser,” features an all-star cast of rockers, going from Dave Navarro to Chad Smith, to Duff McKagan, to Taylor Hawkins (just to name a few) and Iggy has recruited Smith and McKagan for this short tour – there are only four tour dates announced and three are in Los Angeles! Along with Jamie Hince and Andrew Watt, who produced the album, you can call the Losers a supergroup if you want, but all I can say is that they unleashed an amazing level of electrifying energy that the small stage of the Regent could barely contain. I realized it was a great privilege to see all of them at such a small venue instead of attending one of these insanely large stadium shows.
After a long wait (but this is the price that you have to pay to be front row), the show started at 8:45 sharp with Iggy’s familiar dark baritone delivering the spoken words of the interlude “The News for Andy,” before his eruption on stage for the very punk “Neo Punk.” He made the incendiary entrance we were all waiting for under a loud scream coming from the crowd.
“Hiiiiiiiiiii…” yelled Iggy after the first song, barely taking a breath before launching another punk assault. If the new songs delivered their copious part of furious riffs and stage antics, Iggy probably knew that everyone wanted to hear the old classics, and the 80-minute set included a large part of them with the unavoidable “Raw Power,” “Gimme Danger,” “Search and Destroy,” “I Wanna be Your Dog,” as well as a few more Stooges songs, plus some beloved Iggy classics such as “The Passenger,” “Lust for Life,” “Nightclubbing.” The band ripped through Pop’s long career with a ferocious appetite for destruction: you are not backing up one of the most electrifying frontmen on the planet without having that sort of fire in you.
“Turn on the lights, so I can see everybody… Welcome to my world!” Watching Iggy on stage is witnessing an iconic punk rock personality in his favorite territory. However, he engages with the crowd with such devotion, puts so little distance between himself and his public, and sounds so down to earth that it is difficult to realize he is a legend.
The crowd was ecstatic, hysteric, and euphoric, and responded to Iggy’s invitation: “If you jump on stage, I will not stop you!” Soon, people leaped on stage and jumped into the crowd for Pop’s greatest pleasure. You could see a giant smile on his face while watching the young kids stage diving, sometimes awkwardly, sometimes with inspiration from the master.
Iggy, who first appeared on stage with a suit vest on, performed most of the show bare chest as usual, recklessly going from left to right, touching hands, and enjoying every minute of it. He rolled his back on the floor, sat at the edge of the stage, and sang while looking right in my direction, just a few inches away. A more intimate show I had never attended.
Meanwhile, Chad Smith was throwing drumsticks in the crowd at each song without interrupting his powerful drumming for a millisecond, and producer Andrew Watt may have been the revelation of the night, channeling old punk guitarists from Iggy’s past.
During the encore, Iggy treated us with a beautiful and moving cover of “Walk on The Wild Side,” and it was the only time he sat down for almost an entire song. This was tender Iggy, a guy who can still be feral as a cheetah and make provocative moves like the dirty old punk he still is: He put his mic in his pant, touched his crotch with a salacious look, and mimicked a sex move against an amp. If Debbie Harry connected with the youth and current culture and alluded to the transgender generation, there was nothing of this sort with Iggy. Not only he had hired the old guard (except for Watt, Duff and Chad are not exactly the young generation) but he even sang “Sixteen,” a song whose lyrics are probably considered problematic by many: “Show you my explosion, Sweet Sixteen.” Iggy could not care less, he doesn’t care about it more than he cares about showing his sagging skin. At 76 he is uncancellable anyway, and he earned it, he is a punk pioneer. Even the new songs have provocative lines you would expect from the old punk, ”Old ladies cum when I flash my junk” … “Got a dick and 2 balls, that’s more than you all.”
Iggy Pop is a survivor of a defunct era, and his enduring punk attitude still works marvels. He ended the show with a bang and a dog during a ferocious and untamed rendition of the 1969 Stooges classic “I Want to Be Your Dog.” What else could you have wished for? “When I say I wanna be your dog, I mean I want to do everything that a dog can do!” He left the stage staring at us, beating his chest with his fists like a gorilla. A stage animal will always stay a stage animal.
The News for Andy
Raw Power (Iggy and The Stooges)
T.V. Eye (The Stooges)
Strung Out Johnny
Lust for Life
Gimme Danger (Iggy and The Stooges)
Modern Day Rip Off
Loose (The Stooges)
Search and Destroy (Iggy and The Stooges)
Walk on the Wild Side (Lou Reed cover)
I Wanna Be Your Dog (The Stooges)
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