Don't ask me how he did it, but Iggy got through it.
And for all of the battle scars he has rightfully earned, he still looks and sounds pretty damned good on this DVD — ass hanging out all over the place notwithstanding (but of course, that's part of the deal with Iggy anyway, right?).
That most essential part of any great Iggy show — that sort of unhinged sense that things could come completely unglued and fall apart at any minute, even for a guy who has gotta be pushing sixty — still exists here. God bless Iggy for keeping it real even at this stage of the game.
That's the good news. I'll get to the bad soon enough, though. First, I've gotta set things up.
I've seen Iggy a total of three times.
The first was when he toured with David Bowie as part of his backing band. To be honest I went mainly to see Bowie. The thing is, no less than fifteen minutes into it, Iggy was such a commanding presence I completely forgot Bowie was even there. Iggy was simply all over the place. You simply couldn't take your eyes off the guy, in the sort of 'trainwreck about to happen any second' sense. It was amazing.
The second time I saw Iggy he didn't have Bowie with him, but that didn't stop him from nearly inciting a riot at the Showbox in Seattle when he invited the audience up onstage, and they proceeded to knock over the P.A. system, injuring several people, and earning Iggy the distinction of being banned from playing Seattle for several years.
Those were some great concerts. I was witnessing history, I knew it, and I was instantly hooked.
In between the two shows I saw, I also caught up on Iggy's back catalog, making particular note of his live recordings. The common thread I found there was, again, that sort of unhinged, coming apart at the seams quality.
From the raw, yet urgent, bootleg sort of quality I found on TV Eye Live (the document of his tour with Bowie), to the out and out chaos of Metallic K.O. (where you can actually hear people tossing bottles at the stage), the common thread of Iggy's live performances is that they are exactly that. Performances. Where anything can happen, and often does.
So the third time I saw Iggy was last year on his reunion tour with the Stooges, and it was absolutely amazing. No, the guy didn't cut himself with glass or anything like that (despite his past reputation for such things). But for a guy pushing sixty, he still kicked tons of ass.
Which leads me to my one problem with this video.
Does Escaped Maniacs capture all of the unrestrained, unhinged insanity of the Stooges reunion tour? Yes it does. Right down to Iggy's healthier than it has any right to be ass hanging out of its pants as it often does. That sort of down to the bones quality is all over the songs here like "I Wanna Be Your Dog" and "Fun House." This is definitely some raw shit.
The problem here is that the camera, quite frankly, wanders just a bit too much.
If there was anything that pissed me off growing up on concert video shows like Don Kirscher's In Concert and Midnight Special, it was the fact that they always concentrated on the effects, rather than the band.
And when you've got a guy as "can't take your eyes off him" as Iggy Pop, this just doesn't make any sense at all. Especially when the focal point remains one who, even in his advancing years, remains as oddly yet undeniably charismatic as Iggy Pop.
As a concert video, this kicks major ass, if only because you really can't miss with a subject as enduring and fascinating as Iggy. It would just be nice if the directors kept their eye on the ball (or “the Ig” as it were).