We lost Lou Reed in 2013. We lost Bowie back in January. Thank god we still have Iggy Pop.
The irrepressible real-life James Newell Osterberg Jr. is hardly a tired relic, something he proved Monday at sold-out Northrop Auditorium with two hours of unadulterated Iggy-ness. It was his first Twin Cities show in 15 years, and well worth the wait.
Even at 68, Pop remains a mythical, carnal embodiment of the more dangerous vision of rock 'n' roll. He's a rare and shirtless bird, one to be cherished as long as he's able to thrash, churn, smirk, twerk, rock, and roll in the iconic way only Iggy Pop can.
And that's exactly what fans got Monday — a marathon set of Iggy Pop splashing around in the singular fountain of Iggy Pop. He was backed by Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme — with whom he made his latest and possibly last solo album, March's Post Pop Depression — and an all-star band featuring red- and black-suited members of QOTSA, Arctic Monkeys, and Chavez.
All of 10 minutes after leadoff song "Lust for Life," the titular hit from his second post-Stooges, Bowie-produced solo album, Iggy's blazer was on the floor. The current tour setlist is a constant reminder of Bowie, featuring surplus solo cuts from Iggy and Bowie's '70s collaborative Berlin period. Post Pop Depression, which was doled out in heavy doses, was inspired by Pop's late friend.
With the muscular support of his ace band, Iggy spent the night strutting, mugging, and twisting, almost constantly grabbing the hands of fans and taking two tours through Northrop's first 20 rows to bond with his admirers. Pop, almost mime-like in his projections, gestured toward his crotch, humped amplifiers, writhed on the floor, and effectively behaved like a crazed puppy possessed by rock 'n' roll.
Vocally, we got two Iggys: the seasoned, baritone growler who appears on Post Pop, and the groovy talk-shouter from his poppier hits. The former incarnation was on display during The Idiot cut "Sister Midnight," where Pop's bass-y rumbling was almost unintelligible amid the expertly lurching arrangements.
That contrasted nicely with the blues-rock roar of "Sweet Sixteen," featuring a raging Iggy belting out lyrics behind his band's deep grooves and riffage. For his part, the massive Homme towered above Iggy for brief and scorching solos throughout the night, notably on "Tonight" and "Repo Man"
Droning synths led into the familiar piano plucks of "Nightclubbing." An enthused Pop urged the mostly Gen-Xer fans in the gorgeous theater to "bum-rush this fucker," with little success. "If I go hitchhiking tonight ... anybody gonna pick me up?," the sly showman asked before launching into the cocky, almost beat-poet vocal drawl and slashed guitar marching of "The Passenger."
A harder-rocking tear through "China Girl" elicited a full-throated scream from Iggy before he exited the stage, as his bandmates constructed an epic, guitar-squalling instrumental coda and eventually exited themselves.
The audience was initially more sedated when the encore began with Post Pop cut "Break Into Your Heart." It didn't matter, though, because even after unsuccessful attempts at rousing the front row, Iggy just tweaked out by himself, spinning around like a ripped-grandpa tornado. Pop will validate his Iggy-ness, even if you won't.
The audience came back, spurred by the wild AARP-aged singer crowdsurfing — a writhing, life-affirming spectacle — during "Fall in Love With Me." "Paraguay," the viciously aggro, crazed-preacher rant featured on Post Pop, led into 1977's "Success" — a bouncing, light-hearted victory lap. An initially nervous kid (maybe 12 years old?) sporting an Iggy T-shirt joined Pop onstage, and upon Iggy's urging, broke into some inspired wiggly dance moves.
Bouncy and weirdly lusty current single "Gardenia" capped off the night. Once it concluded, Iggy took a bow with his band, thanked the audience for the 1,000th time, and beamed contentment.
“I’d like to stay in Minnesota for the rest of my days!” he charmingly pandered.
Pop remained onstage after his band left, almost as if he really couldn't bear to leave. He then charged out front one last time to pound his chest like a goddamn madman. There are no other Iggys in the world, not even close.
Critic's bias: Did you catch the above love letter to Iggy?
Notes on the opener: A lady who goes by Noveller. Based on the 30 seconds of her set that I caught, she seems to own at least one guitar.
Overheard in the crowd: "They call him Iggles Poop, you know" — the idiot (but not The Idiot) with whom I attended the show.
Random notebook dump: Iggy was turnt, for sure, but at times he'd post up against an amp or on his stool to nod approvingly at his kickass backing band. Also: We didn't get any Stooges tracks, but whatever, man — we got to see Iggy Pop in the flesh.
Setlist: Here she is, courtesy Setlist.FM.