The first time I encountered Iggy Pop was in 1981. I was a freshman in high school; the seventies were finally fading into the sunset, along with the days of grade school. It was time to turn a corner. As we left the old decade behind, I was personally ready to move on. This was high school; I was no longer a boy. Now, I was a man… well, that’s what I wanted to think.
Gone would be the incessant ringing of REO Speedwagon’s High Infidelity, which, along with Boston, Rush, and AC/DC, seemed to form the soundtrack of my classmates in 8th grade. And while I did enjoy AC/DC, I found the rest of my choices to be quite like hell. I had my own music, but it wasn’t welcome in the schoolroom. Devo, the Police, Sex Pistols, and the Ramones seemed destined to play only in the confines of my room.
But no more! I was in high school, and it was time to hear some good music.
Well, other than adding Aerosmith, Triumph, and April Wine to that aforementioned list, high school seemed like it was going to be a bust (little did I know that by sophomore year, all would be replaced by Van Halen, Van Halen, and Van Halen). And then there was hope, and this hope was named “New Values”.
Don’t ask me how it happened, where it came from, or where it went, because I don’t know. But somehow, some way, a punk and new wave music store actually found a home in Missouri, and on Clayton Road, to boot!
A classmate was talking about some weird store he stumbled into, describing the people working there as freaks (“Blue hair! I swear to God!!!”) He also went on to describe the music, if it could be called that, and warned all who would listen to stay away. Well, I couldn’t resist. After school, that day, I would walk down the street and pay a visit.
And that’s when I met Iggy Pop… well, not personally. Up on the wall, for all to see, was a poster of Mr. Osterberg himself, in full frontal glory, and he wasn’t holding his microphone. Well, that’s an image that can’t easily be forgotten—or in the case of my classmate, exorcised. So I asked who that gentleman was, and picked up a copy of Raw Power to hear his story for myself. The rest is history.
On tour to support in support of Beat ‘Em Up [Virgin Records], Iggy Pop shows no real signs of age, despite the fact that the man’s been crunching out music since the sixties. Rather, at a recent show at The Pageant in St. Louis, he was a shirtless, spinning dervish that stood tall, proud and absolutely American, like a classic muscle car. The man moves like a GTO, and is just as badass.
Kicking off with “Espanol” from “Avenue B”, Iggy and the boys immediately dispensed with the rock and roll pretense. This was going to be loud, fast, and on the edge, with Iggy moving to and fro and not once stopping. It was clear that these guys enjoy what they’re doing.
Much of the show was peppered with songs from Beat “Em Up. Songs like “Howl”, “L.O.S.T.”, and the title track seemed just as welcome by the crowd, as did “Real Wild Child”, “T.V. Eye”, and “Home”. Nothing ever felt out of place, however, testament to the single-mindedness Iggy has shown since fronting the Stooges. And he could move from a brand new song like “Drink New Blood” to “Search and Destroy” without batting an eye.
At one point, while singing “The Passenger”, Iggy called some people on the stage… then few more, and then even more. Before you knew it, there were countless bodies, pogoing and shaking to the song.
The entire show could be summed up in the still life captured during “Cold Metal”. With an illuminated American flag on the drum riser, the crowd bouncing madly, and the band punching rhythmically, Iggy screamed the words “I’m a product of America; from the malls to the prisons.”
Pretty much says it all.
By the way, years later I learned that the store that I visited long ago was named after an Iggy Pop record.