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Story by Holiday Girod
While The Stooges may have only appealed to a small core group of music lovers and critics in the early '70s, they were universally treated like rock royalty when they first reformed in 2003 after a 30- year hiatus, With sold-out concerts and massive rock festivals around the world, resounding press-accolades (save for their less-than- stellar 2007 album The Weirdness) and, earlier this year, their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (whatever that means, considering that Abba also got in at the same time), it seems these one-time misfits of rock could do little wrong.
What The Stooges proved last Sunday is that even in their 60s, these old timers can rock as hard and as dangerously as they did in their youth, while also turning in a more volatile and, yes, professional show then any act a third of their age. Slender, shirtless and sinewy as ever, Iggy was a sweat-soaked ball of boundless energy through their surprisingly short but sweet 75 minute set; catapulting his half- naked frame from one end of the stage to the other, hurling mic stands dangerously close to the audience, groveling on all fours like a rabid dog, and continually jumping into the swallowing arms of his audience as if it were an instinct he couldn't control if he wanted to. Williamson stood stoically behind Iggy delivering stinging leads and clobbering slabs of rhythm guitar, while Asheton and Watt (the latter slacked-jawed and in a spread-eagle stance all night due to his full leg brace from a recent knee injury) added a sense of urgency and foreboding danger with their thundering backline.
When Iggy first reformed The Stooges with the brothers Asheton and Watt earlier this decade they only performed material from their first two albums (1969's The Stooges and Funhouse from 1970), but this Chicago set with Williamson featured all eight tracks from Raw Power (including favorites such as "Search and Destroy," "Gimme Danger," the title track which kicked open their show, "Death Trip" and "Shake Appeal" where Iggy invited a dozen-plus audience members up on the stage to display their own 'shake appeal'). They also included great takes on songs such as "Beyond The Law" and the more muscular revamping of the instrumental "Night Theme," both from Pop and Williamson's vastly underrated 1977 Kill City album (which coincidently is getting a long-overdue sonic overhaul on its forthcoming October reissue through Alive and Bomp! Records). Even their closing number "No Fun," a 1969 song which deals with the boredom of Midwestern youth (or more accurately Iggy's own boredom growing up in Ann Arbor, MI in the mid-to-late '60s) couldn't help but smack of irony through the band's slinky and exciting take of this underground classic. No fun, my ass.
It's explosive and physically demanding performances like this that is a welcome reminder of what the true meaning and spirit of rock & roll is all about. For over 40 years Iggy has and still continues to throw every ounce of muscle, blood and sweat into his performance as if he had some sort of death wish. Of course when the grim reaper eventually is standing front-and-center, Iggy will probably lunge into his arms with the same voracity as he does into the waiting arms of his fans, howling the lyrics he sang earlier this night in Chicago, "Blow my cool, bite my lip... See me through on my death trip."
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