In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up to the Opera… Iggy Pop’s Post Pop Depression Live at the Royal Albert Hall

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I’ve been onstage with Iggy Pop four times [If you are at an Iggy Pop show (Stooges or otherwise), it only counts as half a show, if you don’t wind up onstage at some point.]  The godfather of punk has also kicked me in the head mid-stage-dive, salivated me during a particularly vigorous performance of “Mask,” and even split my lip while generously offering me the mic for a sing-along of “The Passenger.”  So when I heard that for his Philadelphia appearance this April, on supposedly his last tour, he would be appearing at The Academy of Music, America’s oldest operating opera house, I was not particularly thrilled… ultimately opting to skip the show for Har Mar Superstar and High Waisted at a venue that didn’t have a “family circle” and wasn’t preparing to host Riverdance… And while I certainly think it would have hurt my heart to see Mr. Osterberg in a poshly ornamented, seated room where liquids are only allowed when they are confined to a $4 sippy cup, missing Iggy’s last romp through Philthy hurt like a bitch as well…

Well, out today, courtesy of Eagle Rock Entertainment, is Iggy Pop’s Post Pop Depression: Live at the Royal Albert Hall, a 2-CD and DVD or Blu-ray set documenting Iggy’s May 13th set at a venue nearly identical to our Academy of Music and the site of Bob Dylan’s most famous and infamous show ever.  And while I’ve watched the performance nearly a dozen times in the past two weeks, I’m still not entirely sure whether or not I made the right decision.  It is exquisitely shot, although it is in a stuffy room, like the Academy, best known for performances of the opera, ballet, and “classical” variety.  And although it’s hard to diminish Iggy’s brilliance (or just “punkness”), the fact that he’s accompanied by Josh Homme, Dean Fertita, and Troy Van Leeuwen, best known as members of radio rock darlings Queens of the Stone Age, can’t help but inspire a bit of a stink face…

Post Pop Depression: Live at the Royal Albert Hall includes the vast majority of Iggy’s latest release, Post Pop Depression, produced by and co-written with Homme, and featuring the QOTSA mainmain and Fertita, in addition to Arctic Monkeys’ drummer Matt Helders.  The latest batch of tunes would seem to blend Iggy’s 21st century forays into jazzy-ness, art rocky-ness, and rappy-ness with the heavy garage rock of his early solo work.  In fact, in addition to the latest album, the live set focuses almost exclusively on his first two solo records, 1977’s The Idiot and Lust For Life, both produced and co-written by the exponentially-cooler-than-Homme David Bowie. However, “Sister Midnight,” “Sixteen,” and “Success” are pretty much as popularly subversive and beautiful as their original heroin-addled recordings, and, although I very much admired the refusal to play after-the-fact mega-hit “Lust For Life” on recent-ish tours, opening a two-hour, $150 show with it seems like a matured version of that same kind of badassery…

Watching Post Pop Depression: Live at the Royal Albert Hall, it’s obvious that hundred-dollar tickets, reserved seats, and a designer suit can only tame Iggy so much (It’s worth noting that the suit was worn shirtless and the jacket discarded after two songs.) But, with Lou and David gone, to have the swan song of the last of the great both subversively intellectual and sonic musical Gods of the 20th century go out in halls built for the most bourgeoisie seems a bit of a slap in the face to those who have been worshipping you in bodily-fluid-doused clubs for nearly 50 years.  Yes, you made it safely into the audience a small handful of times…and a few fans made it onto the stage… which they were very carefully escorted onto and off of… and many got their pogo-on… in tailored trousers. I don’t at all fault you for this, Iggy… It was actually a charming novelty but, if you’re going to say goodbye, is it too much to ask from my aching, breaking heart, that you do it from your beautifully un-“beautiful” stomping grounds of the past five decades?  I don’t suspect any of the fuckers at these shows have ever had it in the ear before…