it's the fans that make or break bands

Iggy & The Stooges – Royal Festival Hall

Royal Festival Hall
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5.0 10 Adequate

Despite initial reservations of the venue, Savages managed to dispell such thoughts as soon as I came within ear-shot; the sound was superb and despite being on the balcony, felt intimate enough to draw the listener into their excellent set. It’s true that you can hear Joy Division, Siouxsie and probably even early Bad Seeds, but this is no bad thing. Better to be influenced by real artists and display it proudly. By the final (very long) track they have captured eveyones’ attention and receive a standing ovation, which is both surprising (ie not the norm for a support act) but more importantly, truly warranted. I look forward to seeing them again somewhere soon.

Half an hour later, The Stooges take the stage and are straight into Raw Power without a nod, wink or cue to the (replacement) drummer. Iggy is sans shirt from the off and is his usual self, twisting and turning, throwing himself onto the stage and into the front few rows as well as generally playing up to the audience. That a man with his background and in his mid-60s can maintain this is indeed truly startling, and surely a testament to a fitness regime built around stamina. He’s in great voice and mood; there’s the obligatory (invited) stage invasion, the overt sexuality and most essentially the true spirit/attitude of punk rock. Young pretenders should watch and learn at how to manipulate a crowd from the off’; we’re on side and it seems everyone from back to front is stood up. Again, this adds so much when being perched on the balcony. It draws the crowd in, reducing the void between band and audience.

New songs from Ready to Die sound good, and show the band still have appetite and the willingness to push the envelope a little but it’s the classics we’re here for. The don’t disappoint as they play immense versions of Search and destroy, No fun, I wanna be your dog, 1970, Funhouse plus a cover of Louie Louie near the end. Their musical cannon may have tailed off after the early 1970s but their legacy remains in tact. You can chart the sound from the Velvets, the Stooges, New York Dolls and Ramones; it gave the UK punk rock and the rest is history.

Near the finale (approx 80 mins non-stop) Iggy asks for the lights to go on so he can see everyone; he waves, we wave back and he beams from ear to ear as he says, ‘Bless you and Ta-Ra!’ This was one hell of a ride; thanks to Yoko Ono for booking them, thanks to Iggy for being the best front man and thanks to James Williamson for THOSE RIFFS!

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