Iggy Pop and the Stooges performing at Festival Hall in Melbourne. Photo: Mal Fairclough
With a casual gesture he raised a sea of hands; with a campy sneer he drew rapturous cheers; with a twitchy contortion he pulled a packed Festival Hall to its feet.
Iggy Pop's battered but buff physique shows every one of his 65 years. But your grandad never commanded a crowd like this Pop does. Anyone brave enough to open for The Stooges?
The Beasts of Bourbon have done so, on a number of occasions, across two decades, and the audience was captivated by their tight back-catalogue set of crotch-grinding Thug Blues.
Iggy Pop in Melbourne
Iggy Pop and the Stooges performing at Festival Hall. Photo: Mal Fairclough
Tex Perkins got a choke-hold on his mic, like it owed him money, and led the band through sex, booze and blood anthems Bad Revisited, Just Right, Straight, Hard and Long and Driver Man.
By the time the Beasts got through Hard For You – surely the most menacing break-up song ever – and a Let's Get Funky finale, the audience was primed for Pop.
While crew took care of last minute tweaks and twiddles, background music consisting of massed choirs gave way to Orff's Carmina Burana, then bombastic opera. This melodramatic soundtrack seemed like a pitiful squeak when cut off by the opening chords of Raw Power.
James Williamson made enough guitar racket for any three mere mortals. Minutemen legend Mike Watt crouched over his bass, intent and focused. Toby Dammit was rolling thunder behind the drums.
Iggy, overshadowing his band, a comically hyperactive frontman, was a straight up menace for the entire show. Security was aghast when he invited a couple of dozen people to join him on stage to dance through Fun House.
The ashen-faced staff thought they'd made it through the worst, eventually clearing the stage, only to have Iggy leap at the cables that fed sound to the gigantic, suspended PA, like a punk monkey on a jungle vine.
New tracks, from the as yet unreleased Ready To Die album, were the only lows. Burn was ham-fisted Garage Goth that Bauhaus wouldn't have touched with a 10-foot eyeliner pencil. Gun and Dirty Deal were mercifully obliterated by the unbridled ferocity of the night's version of Stooges classics like 1970, Search and Destroy, Gimme Danger and I Wanna Be Your Dog.
The encore of Open Up and Bleed broke down into unhinged noise free-fall as band members limped offstage, one at a time, as drained as the fans they left behind.