The Curse of Iggy and the Stooges
By Robert Nichols
Monday 30 May 2011 11:34:00
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Iggy and The Stooges live. Can you believe it? I still can’t. A couple of days after watching them rocking out at Evolution in Newcastle I am still totally gobsmacked at what I’ve witnessed.

 

Many many years ago, too many to count I bought the obscure Kill City album on imported vinyl from Dr Stevie’s record stall in the Hill Street Centre. Half a lifetime later I finally saw Iggy Pop reunited on stage with James Williamson playing a couple of tunes from that album along with most of Raw Power and it was an incredible thing. Incredible.

 

Not that the sound helped. It was quite woeful all day long at the big Spillers Wharf stage at Evolution. I began to have my fears in the afternoon when the scatter gun guitar of Flashguns was damped down to the level of a passing tug up the adjacent River Tyne. They were still good mind, lots of energy and movement across the stage and much cheering from the largely teenage audience.

 

It sounds to me as if they have a strict limit on the sound levels at Evolution but when it so badly affects what you are hearing I would question whether it is fair on the performers or the people paying £25 plus for tickets.

 

Between the bands at the Spillers Stage you could turn around and walk past the food franchises to watch the emerging local talent on the UMT Emerging stage. Far too many warbling Mariah Carey X Factors for my liking. Full marks though to a drum’n’bass duo and the hip hopping science teacher from Thornhill school (I think that is right) with his two pupils on backing vocals. I wonder whether that is what you get for top marks or detention in his lessons.

 

It takes so long to get back to the Baltic Stage that I hear only the final bars of Saint Saviour which is a shame I wanted to watch her after the sterling performance she gave in Sound It Out records, now immortalised on the award winning in store film. The sun has come out now on this the most scenic of the stages set as it is beneath the glittering glass of the Sage and between the Millennium and Tyne bridges.

 

The sun is a saving grace for all the many, many teenage girls in shorts, all the spray on tan in the world won’t defend them from the intermittent showers and chilly breeze. But for the moment they have sunshine but don’t sit on the steps or dance too wildly or you might just get hoyed out by the security.

 

Django Django have recently been added to the Stockton Weekender roster and what a joy they are. There is an awful lot of the Beta Band about them. All vocals are doubled into harmonies and lots of beatlesque blissed out into dance. But Django Django also move into rockabilly guitar and get the young crowd stirred up into rave and moshing action.

 

I walk back on the long march along the Tyne to the Spillers Stage. I have no idea where the Ballast Hills Stage is. There is no map on the leaflets, there were no directions on the website and the stage times info card I have been given directs me only to download the Evolution App for more info. My phone isn’t smart enough and I’m not smart enough.

 

Back inside the Spillers compound and the biggest queue is for Chlamydia. I didn’t realise it was so popular. Apparently you can get a pair of bright red pants for taking the test and so all the lads are wearing them proudly over their trousers now.

 

I feel real sympathy for The Kills because the sound is quite shockingly bad. I have to get far closer than I would like in order to separate out the drum machine from the guitar as it all sounds a bit like a bassy rumble from further back. It is a great shame because they are performing really well and really putting themselves about the stage.

 

Things get really crowded for Two Door Cinema Show and suddenly I am in the thick of a teenage hell. As the band break into their popular dancy indie rhythms there are mosh pits breaking out all round me, though none at the very front where instead you are in the firing line of flying plastic bottles and plastic containers spilling out beer. It is extremely crowded and everyone is going pretty wild for the boys no stage who give their best in response. Girls on shoulders, hands in the air, jumping, dancing, cheering, singalong the set is a big winner. Turn the guitars up shouts someone next to me but it is a forlorn hope.

 

Then the set is over and the teens leave en masse, leaving a scene of devastation behind on the floor. I am able to inch forward again and am joined by a far older audience. We don’t have to wait too long for Iggy to appear bouncing tigger like across stage stripped to the waist as the Stooges belt out Raw Power. If only. And although the saintly guitar of James Williamson is all but missing on Search and Destroy and Gimme Danger and Iggy’s voice is secondary to Mike Watt’s bass it is still blessed stuff.

 

Iggy is soon bounding down to meet the crowd. What a full on entertainer. He obviously has big problems walking on one leg but he can still dance, bounce and strike his poses. Truly a legend before us. At one point he beckons the crowd onto the stage, where his stage manager has to somehow act as a human shield.

 

Beyond The Law, a re-explored Stooges song that turned up on Kill City is fired out at us. Scott Asheton is slow to start a song that almost breaks down and Iggy is so unimpressed he attacks the drums with his mic stand. The kit is rebuilt and Scott is wearing a grin, he’s seen it before but he is tighter second time around.

 

I Wanna Be Your Dog has the crowd yelping in delight. Iggy can be seen on the big screen down on all fours in front of the audience at the front to their obvious delight. Then it is back for an encore. “There is a girl at the front with a pretty face.. but your pretty face is going to hell!!!” Open Up and Bleed sees the guitar turned up at last but then it is all over.

 

Wow what an amazing gig. I missed one of the greatest ever Champions League finals for this but I reckon it was probably worth it. I’ve now seen Iggy and the Stooges, legends in our lifetimes. What an immense performer Iggy still is. So much energy, what an appetite he has to perform to his very best after all these years. He is the ultimate frontman, no question.

 

As Iggy shouts out cursed they may be but even without the late, great Ron Asheton they are a total phenomenon. And I still can’t believe I have finally seen Iggy and The Stooges live.



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