Story by Tony BonyataThis wasn't music for the weary, weak or timid, but rather rock 'n' roll in all of its purest, most explosive, aggressive, unapologetic glory. This was the reunion of the most influential punk band of all time, Iggy Pop and The Stooges (featuring original members Ron Asheton (guitar), Scott Asheton (drummer) and Steve MacKay (sax), along with Mike Watt (bass); a reunion that many fans have been eagerly awaiting ever since the band self-destructed thirty years ago from drugs, bad management moves and inner turmoil between members. This was also the first time since 1973 that The Stooges would all grace the same stage in their hometown of Detroit.
Photos by Phil Bonyata
The Stooges' Monday night performance at the DTE Energy Music Theatre was actually rescheduled from August 14th, when the nation's largest blackout forced the postponement of that show. There may not have been any power for that show, but the reunited band more than made up for it. Now, more than ever, it seemed that this band of men in their middle fifties had something to prove. And prove it they did, as Iggy hit the stage like he was shot out of a cannon for their opening number "Loose," a snarling, sexy stomp, if there ever was one. As Iggy jumped, yelped and agitated the swarming, frenzied crowd, Ron Asheton, with goatee and U.S. army shirt (his Nazi outfit from the early '70s must've been at the dry cleaners) stood stoically as he effortlessly delivered some of the nastiest, foundation-loosening rhythm guitar known to man or beast. Brother Scott Asheton along with Mike Watt, with slacked-jaw and a deer-in-the-headlights glaze on his eyes (probably in amazement that he's actually part of this legendary band), not only did justice to The Stooges' early material, but actually helped up the ante, providing rafter-rattling rhythms which taunted and spurred on their animalistic frontman.
With long brown locks, scruffy whiskers, sinewy x-rated torso fully exposed and all of the stage-stealing thunder of his youth fully intact, Iggy perfected many of the nihilistic frontman antics that he originally created at a time when people still had flowers in their hair and were singing about peace and love. From diving headfirst into the hungry crowd to prowling atop the amps on all fours to sprinting, gyrating and spitting out his lyrics within inches of his fans' faces, this was one of rock's true rebels that had all of the vigor and passion (quite possibly even more now) from his gory, glory days.
Other than one new song "Skull Ring," from Iggy's forthcoming solo album of the same name in which the Asheton bros lent a hand in the recording, all thirteen of the numbers performed were from their first two seminal albums The Stooges and Funhouse. While they decided to totally disregard material from The Stooges' last flawed masterpiece, 1973's Raw Power (probably due to the fact that Iggy brought guitarist James Williamson in for those sessions, relegating Ron to bass) the pure jolt of energy injected into numbers such as "T.V. Eye." "Dirt," "1969" and "I Wanna Be Your Dog"(a song which they reprised at the end of the show, in lieu of any encores) made it clear to see that it wasn't what they played that made this performance so great, but rather how it was played. Sure this was all material that was originally released before many in the audience were even born, but not for one second did this ever smack of nostalgia. This, my friends, was rock 'n' roll with a tight fist, clenched teeth and ugly sneer. And it looked and felt great.
At one point during "Real Cool Time" a fan jumped up on the stage to get closer to the band, when Iggy told the surrounding security guards, "Let 'em up here!" This immediately prompted nearly a hundred fans to storm the stage [I couldn't control myself] as they [we] convulsed and shouted to the band's simplistic punk anthem "No Fun." It was this reckless abandon and high-voltage connectivity between both artist and audience that made this night go down in history as, quite possibly, the greatest rock 'n' roll reunion of all time.
Iggy's played with a lot of bands and musicians since the demise of The Stooges, but none have ever seemed to matter so much, or sound so dangerous, as the band he brought with him last Monday.
Opening for The Stooges were Sonic Youth along with the Von Bondies. While Sonic Youth's wall of guitar feedback and arthouse dissonance on numbers such as "Teenage Riot," "Kool Thing" and "White Cross" reminded the crowd why this vital music was favored by underground hipsters and art-noise aficionados in the late '80s and early '90s, it was actually Detroit's own Von Bondies, with their direct, bombastic approach and troglodyte stomp that directly complimented The Stooges' powderkeg performance. You better believe Detroit still rocks, brother.
Iggy & The Stooges setlist
from the DTE Energy Music Theatre
2) Down On The Street
4) I Wanna Be Your Dog
5) T.V. Eye
7) Real Cool Time
8) No Fun
10) Fun House
11) Skull Ring
12) Not Right
13) Little Doll
14) I Wanna Be Your Dog (reprise)
More Stooges Photos!
Stooges Blackout Journal
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