Iggy Pop’s raucous performance opens Season 42 taping season

There’s no one in rock & roll like Iggy Pop, and we jumped at the chance to present the proto-punk pioneer on the tour for his latest album Post Pop Depression. The new LP – released at the end of this week – also features our old pals Josh Homme, who’s appeared before leading Queens of the Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures, and Dean Fertita, who’s been our guest with Queens and the Raconteurs, joined onstage by Queens guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen, Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders and indie rock sessioneer Matt Sweeney. With a setlist drawn not only from Depression, but its 1977 spiritual kindred The Idiot and Lust For Life, this raucous performance was a mix of old friends and new.

Following a pre-recorded Indian chant, the band, dressed in red smoking jackets, came out swinging with a blazing “Lust For Life,” its unselfconscious leader a ball of energy from the moment he stepped forward to a standing ovation. From that potent hit Iggy moved into the creeping “Sister Midnight,” one of the highlights of The Idiot. Jacket off and chest bare, Iggy thanked the audience for coming, before launching into the brooding “American Valhalla” from the new LP, sounding as if it was recorded at the same time as his classic 70s albums. The volume and power amped back up for Lust deep cut “Sixteen.” That song went right into Depression’s slinky “In the Lobby,” which found Iggy joining the audience, as is his wont. Remarkably, he stayed at the mic for a powerhouse “Some Weird Sin,” channeling his energy into a monster vocal. The groovy “Funtime” followed,with Homme taking the vocal sung by Iggy’s late friend and co-writer David Bowie on the original.  

“Turn all the lights on, I wanna see,” Iggy demanded so he could greet the crowd. Then he was off celebrating “Tonight,” an exceptionally poppy Lust tune that featured a tasty Homme guitar solo. After a monologue about having a job, no matter what is, he rejoined the audience for new song “Sunday,” a chugging pop rocker driven by a danceable groove and a pair of 12-string guitars. The band stayed with Depression for the slow, gnarly “German Days,” before revisiting The Idiot for the even slower and more metallic “Mass Production.” Iggy then took a seat (briefly) as the groove moved into hipswinging territory for The Idiot’s classic “Nightclubbing,” a sarcastic swipe at disco culture that boasted some incendiary Homme solos. A chunky guitar riff announced the arrival of “The Passenger,” another acknowledged classic and an opportunity for the audience to sing along with its “la la” chorus. Iggy and company finished the main set with “China Girl,” a passionate cut from The Idiot made famous in the 80s by its co-author Bowie and brought home by an extended instrumental coda.

After a break to let the audience breathe, the band came back for one of the most generous encores in our history. “Break Into Your Heart,” the first song on the new album, kicked it off, Iggy making another pilgrimage into the crowd. “This is a good one!” he said as preface to the irresistibly danceable “Fall in Love With Me,” a Lust deep cut. Then it was straight into a real surprise – the hard-rocking title track to the beloved cult film Repo Man. Iggy returned to Depression for the soon-to-be classic single “Gardenia,” a song that sounds like it could have been co-written by Bowie all those years ago. He went back to those actual years for the William Burroughs-inspired “Baby,” a song from The Idiot he sang for only the second time since he recorded it. Back to the latest album, Iggy introduced the groovy “Chocolate Drops” with a reminiscence of playing Austin’s Club Foot and the adage, “When you get to the bottom you’re near the top.”  He and the band then went straight into the epic “Paraguay,” punctuated by power chords and a cheerfully profane Iggy rant. Lust For Life’s raucous “Success” closed out the show on a celebratory note, with Iggy making his final trip into the crowd, who sang along lustily during the call-and-response chorus. The audience went wild as Iggy waved, ending the show on the same high with which it began. It was one of the most fun and memorable season opening tapings we’ve ever had, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it broadcasts this fall on PBS.