I expected chaos, tumult, and extra helpings of the Iggy dance. I didn’t really expect him to look like the future version of Karen O. of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in his mini-skirt, fishnet stocking and garter belt. It was a much more interesting look than the crowd; there was hardly a punk rocker in sight. I’d like to know in what venue the show took place, but the DVD doesn’t tell us much beyond the city, date, and the players. Live San Fran 1981 has a bootleg feel to it that’s actually quite refreshing in this day of split second jump cuts and glitz.
The sound is raw, not taken from the board and visually the DVD is grainy – I doubt it would look good at all on a big screen television. But a document like this doesn’t have to be a thing of great beauty; we’re talking real rock & roll archaeology here. Iggy Pop was in a down swing, popularity wise, having peaked with the David Bowie produced albums, The Idiot and Lust For Life. This tour was to promote the Party album, his last for Arista. He was making decent music, but it lacked the fire of the new American hardcore punk scene, yet was still too uncommercial for American radio. A song like “Punping For Jill” just screams out “I’m trying for a hit”, but it couldn’t break big. Iggy’s live shows were where the action was anyways. What would he get hit with this time? Would he roll around on broken glass? Wear a ballerina’s tutu?
He had a pretty killer band with him in San Francisco that night: Carlos Alomar on guitar, former Blondie member Gary Valentine on guitar, Rob Duprey was also on guitar, Mike Page played bass, and Blondie drummer Clem Burke brought his stick twirling dynamics to the show. If the sound was better you could probably hear the interplay between the three guitarists better as they are rarely playing the same thing. Page provides supple bass lines. Burke is the one to watch though; he’s like an unleashed monster behind the drums rarely letting up. Iggy is rather subdued, much like the crowd, only bringing out the Iggy dance completely on “Rock And Roll Party”. Some musical highlights include: show opener “Some Weird Sin”, “TV Eye” which is amped up to a maniacal state, “Eggs On Plate” which actually gets the crowd to pogo a bit, and Iggy’s nod to the Reagan Revolution, “I’m A Conservative” with lyrics just as fitting today - I got bored so I'm making my millions When you're conservative you get a better break You're always on the right side When you're conservative. The set ends with “Pumping For Jill” which really should have been a hit.