Godfather of punk, Iggy Pop, live and shirtless in Melbourne

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Godfather of punk, Iggy Pop, live and shirtless in Melbourne

Words by Liam McNally

Iggy Pop returned to Festival Hall in Melbourne over the Easter long weekend 2019.

It was the legends 72nd birthday that day, and he still belts loud enough to wake up sweet baby Jesus a day early.

The Chats opened the show, the honour of which the band mentioned had them feeling like they were ‘ready to retire tomorrow’. The dirty young fellas did a good job of getting the crowd amped up with their very Australian brand of rag-tag punk. Their underground hit, ‘Smoko’, and new single ‘Pub Feed’ had the mosh jumping around and chanting along as the fashionably-late crowd were still filling up their seats at the back.

When Iggy emerged, backdropped against some strange dramatic sounds and a sickly blue-green light, he launched straight into ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’. The massive energy of the songs fuzzy guitars got the crowd absolutely frothing straight off the bat. He was shirtless from the get-go, which makes sense, I don’t think Iggy has owned a shirt since the late ’60s. His body looks a bit like leather stretched out over a few match-sticks, but for a 72-year-old who’s done the shit he has? Super tight rig.

Shortly after was ‘The Passenger’, which showed the slightly softer side of his repertoire, the dude definitely still has his voice, which you could hear over the crowd singing along every word. ‘I’m Sick Of You’ sounded massive and dramatic, building to when the guitars go nuts halfway through the track, it was one of my unexpected favourites of the night.

At one-point, Iggy mentioned he was in Australia exactly forty years ago and was ‘rude to a TV presenter,’ referencing an infamous Molly Meldrum interview. He then went into a story about his drug use, saying he was approaching thirty and knew it wasn’t sustainable. He wrote down all the things that make him want to get fucked up and wrote a poem about it. A recording buddy stole the poem, which he had hidden under his bed, and that’s how ‘Some Weird Sin’ became a song, which he launched into next.

‘Search and Destroy’ had the crowd in a frenzy, a cover of Bowie’s ‘The Jean Genie’ showed off Iggy’s wicked dance moved, then 1969 was back to frenzy.

‘No Fun’ saw the audience swarm the stage, a few dozen of the audience helped up by the bouncers and everybody partied alongside the legend which was super cool. Amongst that crowd, I saw three counts of embarrassing air-guitar; two counts of people doing nothing but trying to get a good selfie; many instances of inappropriate groping of Iggy; and only one instance of a man refusing to leave the stage afterward and being head locked and dragged away. Pretty good stats.

He sang ‘Real Wild One’ as his closer, and there wasn’t a moment of lull in the audience before he returned to encore with ‘Down On The Street’, which was amped, then as his actual last track was the only ‘Melbournian song he and the band knew’, an epic amped-up cover of ‘Red Right Hand’ by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

Iggy was sung happy birthday twice during the show, once as a part of the set, he emerged in a cape and there were cannons and streamers and the band played along to the singing, and once earlier in the night, the crowd started an impromptu happy birthday. Some members of the crowd had organised to hold up a giant ‘happy birthday’ sign, too, he pointed it out and thanked the audience and said it ‘made his night’. I hope it did, and he enjoyed his 72nd because his performance was a mad-as-hell rock ‘n’ roll gift to everyone there.