Monday, April 9, 2007

A Scorching Show! Iggy & the Stooges at United Palace Theater, NYC

Okay, I know I boasted that Iggy Pop was one of the greatest living live performers, but every time I see the man, it reminds me how right I am!

The absolutely gorgeous United Palace Theater, full of gold leaf sculpted plaster walls, intricate towering ceilings and velvet cushioned seats has been the home to Reverend Ike for the past 30 years, with lots of revival meeting "Hallelujah's" and "Praise the Lord's." But, the Reverend himself is quoted on the walls, "Don't trust anyone's opinion but your own," so--in a way--Iggy & the Stooges was a natural act to fill that gilded hall.

The crowd dribbled in, barely 1/4 made it to their seats in time to hear unannounced opening act, all female S.F. Bay Area power trio Sistas in the Pit. Intense at times, at other times looking to crash the dyke disco scene, they were the definition of "uneven." Still the good tunes outweighed the blad, and all-and-all, they were received positively.

By the time the Stooges took the stage at 9:30, nearly all 3,200 seats were full, but once the first note hit, hardly anyone was sitting down for a second. While a 12-song set (plus 5-song double encore) may seem a bit short in the age of 23-song Stones shows, every tune was delivered with such intensity, it was hard to believe no one had a heart attack (especially considering the largely over-30 age range of the crowd).

Following a couple of new songs, Iggy launched into a explosive version of his biggest hit "I Wanna Be Your Dog," crawling on all fours, launching himself off the stage into the crowd. His most popular new hit, the clever ditty, "My Idea of Fun..." (second line: "Is Killing Everyone") rocked the house, and proved clearly that fans had been tuning into the Stooges myspace site, since with minimal radio airplay and increasingly few places to buy offline cds, fans still knew the words (and the songs only been out for 3 weeks!).

A range of older favorites, including intense, extended versions of "TV Eye," "Dirt," "Real Cool Time," "No Fun" and "Funhouse" interspersed with other new songs provided a non-stop electric shock treatment show. Two hundred fans poured onstage for "Real Cool Time," with Iggy, like the genteel host of some Broadway benefit, doing his best to make all of them happy, and keep his low riding, skin-tight jeans on (at least for most of the show).

The four-song first encore opened with the classic "1969" and ended with what is sure to become a new classic, the brand new rocker, "I'm Fried" (which on the album, includes a 3-sax solo!!!). The final encore, with Iggy looking like he truly was finally "fried" included only "Little Electric Chair" of 2003's underrated gem Skull Ring.

The only other performer to really ever compare to Iggy is one of his favorites, Jim Morrison. He exudes sex, passion, energy, and the willingness to share in a mutual submission to a greater (raw) power. He is rock's ultimate showman--neither master nor slave, neither victim nor hero. His live shows are transformational, and perhaps that's the best reason of all that the venue he chose for his one-night-only NYC show was a church. Amen.

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