Watching Iggy Pop struts his stuff on the Blu-ray/2-CD package Post Pop Depression: Live at the Royal Albert Hall, from Eagle Rock Entertainment and Universal Music. To experience this release is to remember why real rock and roll scared the crap out of the establishment. With a band fronted by Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme, Pop generates enough energy to power all of London. They don’t just blow the roof off – they knock down walls and shake foundations.
At age 69, Pop might not be quite as insane as he once was. He doesn’t deliberately cut himself on stage anymore (although he did manage to cut himself during his first dive into the crowd), but he still bounces around the stage like his legs are springs. This is a guy who takes the concept of putting body and soul into something literally as he flings himself into song after song. For nearly two hours, he sings and throws himself around the stage and into the audience with only a small break between the main set and the encore.
Even more incredible is the fact his voice hasn’t lost any of its power or its versatility. There’s a misconception of Pop being primarily a screamer of lyrics. However, the truth is, while his range might not extend easily into the upper reaches, he can and does utilize the mid and lower ends of the scale beautifully. He can switch from near crooning lyrics in a strong baritone to growling out invective in the blink of an eye. This prevents his songs from becoming exercises in trying to overpower the audience and becoming droning, boring noise.
While the concert was obviously designed to showcase what Pop and Homme wrote for the Post Pop Depression CD released in the spring of 2016, it also features material covering the span of Pop’s solo career. With the exception of “Repo Man” (his contribution to the cult movie hit of the same name) and “Sixteen”, the majority of songs not from the new album were from his collaborations with the late David Bowie.
From the show’s opener, “Lust for Life”, to the song you forgot he co-wrote, “China Girl”, this concert could also be taken as Pop’s tribute to his old friend. Without his name ever being mentioned at anytime during the performance, Bowie was an undeniable presence throughout.
However, this wasn’t some guy trotting out a collection of his past hits trying to relive old glory. The new material was every bit as powerful and inspired as anything Pop has done in the first 50 years of his career. Songs like “Sunday”, “American Valhalla”, and “Chocolate Drops”, with their musings on his time spent in the trenches of the pop music wars, are intelligent reflections on a long and tumultuous life and career.
This three-disc set, one Blu-ray and two CDs, is an amazing record of nearly two hours of magic. While the CDs contain the audio of the concert and are great to listen to, the real treasure is the Blu-ray. Not only are the audio and visual perfect, director James Russell has provided us with a perfect mix of camera angels and shots to capture the event. We are on stage with the band as Pop rumbles across the stage and Homme and company play like men possessed. The lasting impression one takes away from those moments is how much fun they are all having doing this show.
Their spirit is obviously infectious as we see whenever the camera follows Iggy on one of his forays into the crowd. Whether the crowd is supporting him while he body surfs or he simply walks amongst them, everyone is invariably smiling. It’s not the usual adulation of fans either. For while there are signs of the ubiquitous selfie taking which plagues any public event, most people seem content with reaching out to touch or hug Pop. It’s like they are saying thank you, or perhaps goodbye.
This may or may not be Pop’s swan song. If it is, he’s definitely going out the same way he came in – being true to himself and his music. Pop has never taken any prisoners in his life or his art, and this concert is no exception. He might be older and probably a lot wiser than he was when he first came on the scene in the 1960s, but he still gives his body and soul to his music. If you’ve never seen him in concert, Post Pop Depression: Live at the Royal Albert Hall is the next best thing.