Thursday, April 7, 2016

Concert Review: Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression @ Paramount Theatre - Seattle, WA 03/28/16

Greetings! Queen City Steph, here, glad to be back from a long winter hibernation.  Lately I've felt a change here in Seattle.  Since last Monday, March 28th, when Iggy Pop launched his Post Pop Depression tour here at the Paramount Theatre, it's as if he summoned some Norse God-like powers to hurl those gloomy Pacific Northwest rainclouds straight out of the universe and let the sun shine in (finally).  The weather-folk might call that a high pressure system, but I call it a Post-Pop-Depression-Buzz.  Tropical Depression Iggy, from Miami-F-L-A, blew right in with a post punk force not to be reckoned with and I've been on a high, trying to catch my breath, ever since!

Though my color palette says that I'm a 'Winter', I despise & dread that season with a passion.  This past winter was a toughy for me- record rains that will go down in the books for Seattle...and David Bowie's death.  No joke, it went from crisp, sunny winter days here in Seattle to buckets of rain the day we woke up to the news about Bowie's passing.  I always knew The Man Upstairs was a Ziggy Stardust fan.

Tributes poured in, YouTube videos were posted on social media, and old photos of Bowie resurfaced from the vast fringes of the googleverse to help everyone cope with David's demise. The Sacred Triangle photo of David, Iggy, and Lou shed some irony and a collective WTF to this bummer of a situation.  Out of the three rocker dudes pictured here, back in the early '70s in a London hotel room, who would have thunketh that Iggy would be the last man standing, here now in the year 2016!!?? Must be that Lust for Life, I say!

Looking back now, reflecting on those few weeks after the Starman's departure from planet Earth, I find the timing ironic about the rumblings of an Iggy Pop resurgence.  Talk of a new album--a collab with Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, appearances on late night TV, and the internet abuzz with articles about Iggy's new material gave me some hope and restored my appetite for music again.  As I drowned my sorrows in spinning my Bowie records nonstop, I threw The Idiot and Lust for Life also in the mix, to re-acquaint myself with Iggy, and cope with my grief over Bowie.  Funny how these two albums from the late '70s 'Berlin Era', co-written and produced by Bowie, helped save Iggy's music career from 'turning blue.'  The Frankenstein blend of eerie, dark, experimental, raw, dirty, bluesy, cool riffs that Bowie and his band of talented musicians painted as a backdrop to the Dracula-meets-lounge singer croon of Iggy's succinct & twisted pop lyrics was & still is a defining moment in rock history.  I tried to imagine what shenanigans David Bowie & Iggy Pop were getting into back then.  How they met my other heroes, Kraftwerk--those Teutonic Forefathers of Techno. This German group's sound of deadpan robotic vocals & tinny drum machine beats with synths was a major influence on the vampire cabaret rockers that Bowie & Iggy brought to life on The Idiot and Lust for Life.  Nearly 40 years later, with Lou & David gone from the world, those two defining albums from the late '70s would spur new musical genres and birth numerous bands.  A Post Pop Depression would settle in, and Iggy would break into our hearts and crawl under our skin, and everything would make sense.  So when a tour was announced, kicking off at the end of March right here in Seattle, feeling a sense of urgency to see the last man standing from the Holy Trinity of Punk, I said life's too short and splurged on a front row ticket!

Kind of coincidental that March 28th, Easter Monday, or 'Renewal Monday' would mark the start of the Post Pop Depression tour at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle.  Lord knows how many times Iggy's been resurrected. As I entered the landmark theatre, walking through the grand corridors and aisles under the ornately embellished ceilings of this palatial structure built in the 1920s for the purpose of showcasing vaudevillian acts, I came with no expectations of this show.  Do I dare admit I was an Iggy-virgin, too?

The lights dimmed and the thick maroon velvet curtains parted to reveal an opening act.  A brunette with classic beauty and long wavy tresses with bangs parted to the side, clad in a black sleeveless skater skirt dress with black opaque tights stood solo, in the middle of the stage cradling an electric guitar.  Using a loop machine, she'd layer in different melodies, sounds, and effects to create a soundscape that led me through a sonic journey.  Her set was completely instrumental and the sound was psychedelic, other-worldly, and reminiscent of '70s German groups like Can, but this was the work of one, mighty woman.  Songs would begin with simple plucked out melodies, then build up to layered electric madness with the sonic vibrations passing through my bones and emotional core.  I closed my eyes to take it all in.  The artist introduced herself as Noveller and was proud to be playing most of the US tour dates with Iggy Pop.  She closed out her set with a few more songs which turned into one total cosmic metamorphosis.  Colored lights in blue, purple, magenta and green beamed down on her and seemed to shift with each addition of a sound layer and mood introduced in the song.  She rocked and swayed and heaved and ho'd her guitar as if to suggest her movements were somehow influencing the sounds she was creating with her guitar.  The entire set was mesmerizing to watch; it had an aquatic effect.  At times, Noveller reminded me of a hipster mermaid, tempting indie boys with her sexy guitar-playing prowess and wavy brunette locks undulating like the fronds of sea kelp as the tide swept above her.  During her last song, she produced a bow to pluck a mandolin-esque sound with her guitar.  For some, this may have been a puzzling act to open a raucous Iggy Pop show, but it made perfect sense to most of the audience who showed adoration with clapping and hoots & hollers.  My senses had been massaged and stimulated...and now I was ready for Iggy!

After the curtains closed on Noveller, lots of racket could be heard coming from behind the heavy velvet curtains.  Guitars blared and screeched, men yelled, all hell was about to break lose.  It almost sounded like a warm-up session for a band fronted by the Tasmanian Devil.  The theatre started to fill up with anticipation for Iggy.  Ushers and bouncers took their spots manning the aisles, the energy was electric, then the lights dimmed.  A kind of campy tribal music that reminded me of something out of a Coen Brothers movie emanated from behind the thick curtains, as if it were the backdrop for a virgin sacrifice to a volcano.  Then, suddenly, the curtains parted to reveal a sonic rock & roll explosion.  The primal beats morphed into the familiar wham-bam-bam of "Lust for Life", as 5 rockin' dudes not yet ready to let go of their "Lust for Life" years, wailed on with their guitars and drums.  The opening bars of "Lust for Life" seemed to play for an eternity....and then the Tasmanian Devil of Punk appeared!  The crowd screamed and clapped, Iggy came running up  to the stage in smart grey suit with no shirt, and snarled 'Here Comes Johnny Yen again..." The jacket immediately flew off and tanned, bare-chested, sinewy Iggy roamed the stage back and forth, giving scowling looks to the audience as he sang the rest of the song. 

Immediately after "Lust for Life", the funky beat of "Sister Midnight" shuffled in.  Iggy sang in his classic, dirty man deadpan croon, just like on The Idiot, and sauntered around the stage.  It was so badass and reminded me of the time I saw Bowie back in 2004 when he performed his version of this song, entitled "Red Money", on his tour.  After "Sister Midnight", one of the new songs from the Post Pop Depression album was played.  I can't remember if it was "Break into Your Heart" or "American Valhalla"....but either way....the newer material released as a collab between Iggy and Josh Homme highlighted Iggy's ominous, simmering vocals with the cool burning rockers by Josh Homme.  Seeing a shirtless Iggy dressed in grey suit trousers, backed by a band disguised as hipster lounge undertakers in matching dark moddish skinny suits with leopard print lapels, belt out these slow burning desert-crafted rock jams, reminded me of some twisted Neil Diamond sex symbol.  In fact, I think I even saw a pair of lacy granny panties plop on the stage near the end of the show.  Iggy's baritone vocals thundered throughout the theatre, his timbre sounding much like Lee Hazlewood on "Some Velvet Morning".  Post Pop Depression was not so sad after all.  

Alternating between Post Pop Depression, Josh Homme and crew providing the driving sound in all of the Bowie/Iggy Berlin compositions from the Lust for Life and The Idiot albums, allowing Iggy to wail and croon with his perfectly preserved voice as he rocked hard on classics like "Some Weird Sin" and "Sixteen".  Iggy's stage presence also reminded me of a mix between a bewildered wild animal who'd just been let out of a crate and a toddler going through the terrible twos as he staggered around the stage and scoffed at the audience.  As I observed him, I was holding my breath for the time he'd stumble off the stage.  It didn't happen, as I think this is just part of his perfectly crafted stage presence schtick!  Between the dazed & bewildered stumbling, Iggy would gain control and saunter around the stage like a cabaret singer, interacting with each of the band members. Eventually he left the stage in the middle of one of his slower songs, perhaps out of spontaneity, and craving some audience interaction.  Ever the performer, he continued singing his song, and shuffling across the aisle in front of the front row.  Holy SH*T!  He was heading my way down the front aisle.  I was trying to quickly think what I'd do once he made his way to me, and when the moment arrived, he had been face to face with the fellow standing to my left and now, this Rock n Roll icon had turned, with his back side to me.  So what does a nice Italian girl do when she finds herself with Mr. Iggy Pop standing in front of her?  She reaches out and pinches his love handles.  I felt the luxury of Iggy....and it was an exhilarating moment laying my hands on a legend!  The moment was.... priceless, and I feel I've acquired some kind of good luck after rubbing Iggy!

Iggy, about to turn 69, had the energy level of someone less than half his age.  Although he knew his limits- when to cool off as he sat on wooden stool to regain his stamina and croon during a slow electro-cabaret song; the next moment he'd grab the stool and pantomime a lion-tamer move towards the audience during a fast-paced rocker.  He wiggled around the stage and even performed some tai chi moves.  My senses were overloaded by the Sound and Vision of his performance.  And speaking of Sound & Vision, Iggy and the band could not have paid better respect to David Bowie with their adept recreations of his songs made with Iggy on Lust for Life and The Idiot albums.  Josh Homme tore it up with bluesy shredding, rivaling Bowie's favorite guitarist Carlos Alomar and Troy Van Leeuwen's keyboard playing added the finishing touches to Bowie's timeless melodies such as "China Girl". The eerie synthesizer sounds on "Mass Production" were perfectly recreated to a tee. This was quite possibly one of the best Bowie tributes you could have witnessed and it healed my grieving heart.  As the last song of the first set ended, Troy Van Leeuwen threw his guitar pick into the audience.  Just as my reflexes picked up on this, I felt something fly into my messed-up bouffant ponytail hairdo, then fall to the ground.  Quickly coming to my senses, I checked under my seat, and sure enough there was the pick!  I've never caught a bouquet at a wedding, but this moment tops that!!

Iggy and the band returned to the stage to play another long set of songs, closing out with the silly-penned rocker, "Success", as if to call a spade a spade.  For 2 hours, Iggy and the band rocked The Paramount, injecting rock and roll into the souls of the cynical punks who adore his music.  As I looked around the crowd, everyone was singing and miming his lyrics.  I even caught one girl in the orchestra pit section who had memorized his crazy rant about shoving laptops up your arse on his new song "Paraguay".  It was beautiful and you could see Iggy basking in the love & adoration of his audience, with twinkling eyes and a healthy wide Nordic smile.  Not only did Iggy display a Lust for Life, but he's not afraid to act like an 'Idiot', too.  I couldn't help but crack up during his self-help inspired song, "Chocolate Drops", watching the other band members having to sing the whacky lyrics.  And I nearly lost it when Iggy made a king-kong gorilla gesture during the zoo lyric in "Success".  This show was magical and ever since Iggy's Post Pop Depression came to town, the sun's been shining its warm rays upon rainy Seattle.  Thank you, saved me!

Life, Love, and Faith....
-Queen City Steph

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