Review: Iggy Pop at the Festival Hall, Melbourne, April 21st, 2019
When Bluesfest announced last year that the Godfather of Punk, Iggy Pop, was set to be joining their 30th anniversary lineup, punters knew that all hell was about to break loose.
While it had been a few years since Iggy Pop had been back to our shores, it was clear that this was going to be a huge deal.
With his most successful record in years, Post Pop Depression, being released back in 2016, fans were keen to get down to some of the classic tunes that this musical icon had to offer.
Following two performances at the Sydney Opera House and a well-received spot on the Bluesfest bill, Iggy Pop made his way to Melbourne’s Festival Hall on Sunday night to wrap up his Aussie tour (and celebrate his 72nd birthday), in the only way that he knew how.
Check out Iggy Pop’s ‘The Passenger’:
As fans slowly made their way into the cosy confines of Festival Hall, it was clear that the age gap between Iggy Pop’s followers was a wide one. As veteran supporters rocked vintage concert tees, and younger fans murmured excitedly about what classic tunes the musical icon would be performing that night.
However, those questions would take a while to be answered, because before long, Sunshine Coast rockers The Chats had arrived to kick things off.
Opening their set with the rumbling bass of ‘How Many Do You Do’, the atmosphere quickly descended into chaos, with the group delivering a pub rock explosion that had fans unable to look away.
Armed with a keen sense of humour, a casual attitude, and an endearingly-ocker way of carrying themselves, the group delivered unrelenting rhythms, catchy vocals, driving bass lines, and fuzzy chords at every turn.
“You guys are probably thinking, ‘why the fuck are they supporting Iggy Pop?’,” the group mused at one point. “We’re thinking that too.”
Powering through tracks like ‘Bus Money’, ‘Mum Stole My Darts’, new single ‘Pub Feed’, and the viral hit ‘Smoko’, The Chats attacked every single song like it was the last they were going to play, not letting up for a single second, and leaving us wondering if bassist Eamon Sandwith might need a cough drop to deal with the effect his rough vocals would have on his throat.
While many fans would have undoubtedly passed judgement on The Chats beforehand thanks to their track ‘Smoko’, and the blokey, pub-rock attitudes that they showcase through their tracks, their live performances show that they are far more than their image, delivering a stunning rock show that they’re not only a stunning rock group, but also worthy of supporting huge names like Iggy Pop.
Wrapping up their set with ‘Temperature’, the group took their leave from the stage, undoubtedly having won over a few new fans in the process, and leaving others wondering when next they’ll be performing in Melbourne.
Check out The Chats’ ‘Pub Feed’:
As fans flooded Festival Hall’s main floor, or found themselves claustrophobically-cramped into the venue’s seated section, it was clear that excitement levels were rising, as excited chatter grew to deafening levels.
As we got closer to showtime though, the lights slowly dimmed, and a Bernard Herrmann-esque score rose in intensity over the venue’s P.A. system. Upon the sound and tension reaching critical levels, something gave way, and six musicians flooded the stage, with the iconic, shirtless Iggy Pop in tow.
With sounds of dogs barking soundtracking their entry, the menacing riff to The Stooges’ ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ soon rang out, and Iggy Pop soon began writhing around the stage like a man possessed.
While Pop’s legendary vocals cut through the din, the crowd shouted each and every word back, pulsing along as they did, undoubtedly certain that they were watching something akin to an historic event.
Sounding exactly as he did on record so any years ago, Pop jumps into the crowd after barely a minute onstage, bringing his music to the people before getting lost in the sweaty mass of bodies. As we scan the crowd, looking for a sign of his dirty blonde locks, he suddenly pops up halfway across the stage, and fans are certain they have no idea what’s coming next.
As he brought the mood down for the introduction to ‘Gimme Danger’, things didn’t take long to heat up again, as Pop threw down microphone stands, posed for his adoring fans, and blew us away with those iconic vocals as the song reached its end.
After dishing up healthy classics such as ‘The Passenger’ and ‘Lust For Life’, it felt like we’d already run a marathon, wondering what on Earth could come next to top the majesty we had just witnessed. Thankfully, the night was far from over, and Iggy Pop had plenty of tricks up his sleeve.
Check out Iggy Pop’s ‘Lust For Life’:
As Iggy Pop powered through this set, swinging his arms around more than a Dutch windmill, fans watched on in awe as they received a lesson in rock history.
Following a rendition of the cathartic ‘I’m Sick Of You’, which featured Pop’s famed howling vocals, with the song’s lyrics punctuated solely by his sudden, frantic movements from time to time.
As the song faded out, Iggy regaled us with the tale of how he first came to Australia in the ’70s, only to partake in a now-infamous interview with Molly Meldrum in the process. However, this story was prefaced by an impromptu celebration, with fans singing ‘Happy Birthday’ in honour of Iggy’s 72nd birthday, which took place that very day.
Following a rendition of ‘Search & Destroy’ which was sung entirely from inside the massive crowd, Iggy returned for a tunes like ‘T.V. Eye’, and the slower, industrial-sounding ‘Mass Production’.
However, things were once again about to get kicked up a notch, with Iggy dropping into David Bowie’s ‘The Jean Genie’ (whose lyrics were themselves based on songs by The Stooges’ frontman), before dishing up a phenomenal performance of ‘1969’.
Of course, it seemed almost odd to be listening to Iggy Pop sing lyrics like “Last year I was 21, I didn’t have a lot of fun/And now I’m gonna be 22, I say oh my and a boo-hoo” knowing that these events happened 50 years ago, and that he was singing them with exactly the same intensity as all those years ago.
While fans revelled in this bit of rock history, the energy was again raised as fans invaded the stage for the traditional dance party to The Stooges’ ‘No Fun’, with security guards undoubtedly feeling as though their work was cut out for them during this intense number.
Check out The Stooges’ ‘No Fun’:
After running through ‘Real Cool Time’, Iggy Pop returned to the stage dressed in a cape, allowing fans and his band to again wish him a happy birthday, this time with confetti flooding into the air as the opening beats to ‘Nightclubbing’ pulsed throughout Festival Hall.
Following performances of ‘Sixteen’ and ‘Five Foot One’, Iggy closed out his main set with a truly wild rendition of Johnny O’Keefe’s iconic ‘Real Wild Child (Wild One)’, draping himself over the stage, and throwing down microphones as if it were a sport.
However, as he wrapped up this track, Iggy Pop and his band waved goodbye to us all, before almost immediately returning in what is clearly one of the shortest encore breaks in history.
Closing out the evening with stunning performances of ‘Down On The Street’, and a cover of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ ‘Red Right Hand’ (“Kind of a Melburnian song,” he quipped), Iggy once again waved us farewell, and promised that he would indeed return sometime, noting that he “can’t get enough” of the country.
As fans flooded back out onto the cold Melbourne streets, it was obvious that we just bore witness to not only one of the greatest living rockstars, but one of the finest performers of all time.
While fans could be heard remarking that they wish they had that much energy at 72, it was clear that nothing could ever compare to what we had just seen. His musical legacy might precede him, but an Iggy Pop show is so wild and unpredictable that you never know what you’ll receive.
However, that is the beauty of his music, and clearly, everyone was stunned by what they had seen that evening.
Check out The Stooges’ ‘Down On The Street’:
Iggy Pop @ Festival Hall, Melbourne 21/4/19 Setlist
‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’
‘Lust For Life’
‘I’m Sick Of You’
‘Some Weird Sin’
‘Search And Destroy’
‘The Jean Genie’ (David Bowie cover)
‘Real Cool Time’
‘Five Foot One’
‘Real Wild Child (Wild One)’ (Johnny O’Keefe cover)
‘Down On The Street’
‘Red Right Hand’ (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds cover)