From the burgeoning punk scene in Detroit where his antics shocked and awed an entire generation of impressionable kids to being Bowie’s right-hand man during their respective Berlin periods in the late ’70s, Iggy Pop is rock’s versatile black cat, granted many more lives than anyone would have thought the godfather of punk would survive. The street-walking cheetah is currently occupying the latest, and rumored last, phase of his career with the release of Post Pop Depression, a desert storm and the long-lost sibling to his Berlin-era, Bowie-produced iconic solo albums, 1977’s The Idiot and Lust for Life.
Pop has found a kindred soul with one of modern rock’s most seminal masterminds, Josh Homme, frontman of Queens of the Stone Age, who has helped him assemble one of the most vicious backing bands a punk could hope for in 2016: along with Homme serving as bandleader, two of his QOTSA band mates, Dean Fertita (also of the Dead Weather) and Troy Van Leeuwen have joined him, along bassist Matt Sweeney and Arctic Monkeys’ Matt Helders on drums. Together, they brought Iggy’s Berlin solo albums and Post Pop Depression to ecstatic, frantic life on Monday night at Northrop. While a Monday night show at a classically-designed white marble auditorium may not seem like a particularly punk scenario, Iggy and his band managed to infect the place with dissonant disorder in the best possible way.
Greeted to the stage with the all-consuming sounds of Native American drum and dance over the loudspeakers, Pop’s band took the stage seven minutes fashionably late after his scheduled time to the raucous chords of “Lust for Life,” all dressed to the nines in matching red smoker’s jackets. Pop graced the stage, all flailing limbs and a sleek black suit, shortly thereafter, with his bellowing baritone somehow preserved after all of these decades. By the first Post Pop song, “American Valhalla,” Iggy’s omnipresent bare, scarred chest was in full view, the jacket completely off.
Despite the changed times, the family-friendly atmosphere (one particularly lucky little girl could be spotted sporting a much-too-large Post Pop Depression shirt in the front row), and the stuffy atmosphere of a seated auditorium, Pop’s stage banter hasn’t changed much, sprinkled with f-bombs aplenty and strange anecdotes (“You don’t hear enough songs about Germany!” he quipped before “German Days”), although he did manage to refrain from taking off anything more than his suit jacket.
Pop’s new material and his 1977 albums flowed seamlessly together, with Post Pop Depression highlight “Sunday” sounding right at home alongside classics such as “The Passenger.” Part of the new music’s shine comes from the enthusiasm and confidence with which Josh Homme and the other backing band members play — Homme obviously relished having temporarily relinquished frontman duties, and could be spotted mastering the art of the the backing guitar shuffle all night, twisting and shouting and riffing along with Pop. Oftentimes, the skill of the band resulted in an almost apocalyptic loudness, building to one punk rock climax after another on a stage bathed in blood red.
Pop still lives with the moniker of Godfather of Punk, and to his credit did the very best he could to give the aging crowd a punk show, often venturing out onto the floor to dance with silver-haired, euphoric fangirls or to get roped into an unwilling selfie. Much credit goes to the concert security, who more or less went with the flow, allowing two punks to walk onstage at one point and letting some with seats further back in the auditorium rush up to the front in order to get closer to the legend. Iggy seemed to entertain every outstretched hand and connect with every soul, thriving off of the energy and excitement he can still cause after all these years.
When Iggy and the band returned for a massive eight-song encore, they included the only number not from either 1977 or 2016, 1984’s title song for the soundtrack to Repo Man. Pop reigned master of chaos, actually throwing a microphone stand across stage when he wasn’t braving out into the crowd. “I’d like to stay in Minnesota for the rest of my days!” He exclaimed towards the end, smiling out towards the suburban punks dancing in the nosebleeds. From the screams of the crowd — young and old, male and female — it’s obvious Minnesota wouldn’t mind adopting punk’s foremost weirdo. If this truly is Iggy’s last hurrah, he stuck the landing perfectly.
Opening for Mr. Pop was Noveller, the drony solo project of Sarah Lipstate. Besides her obvious mastery of the guitar, it’s easy to understand Iggy Pop’s attraction to the project: the singular political statement of a woman in a dress commanding an entire stage with her guitar is a punk notion Iggy assuredly appreciates. With her only accompaniment the pedals at her feet and her amp, Noveller filled the auditorium with dreamy melodies and feedback, managing to extract the beauty out of harsh noise.
Lust for Life
In the Lobby
Some Weird Sin
Break Into Your Heart
Fall in Love with Me
Hannah Marie Hron is a junior at Hamline University who hopes to continue a career in music journalim after graduation. Along with Iggy Pop, some of her other idols include Patti Smith, Ezra Koenig, Kendrick Lamar, and Kim Gordon.