Published Apr 10, 2016Iggy Pop doesn't crowd surf as much as he used to, but judging by last night's (April 9) show at Toronto's Sony Centre, that's one of only a few things the 68-year-old proto punk icon won't do.
Touring across North America in support of his latest album, Post Pop Depression, the veteran vocalist and his band — a who's who of modern rockers led by Josh Homme and featuring members of Queens of the Stone Age (multi-instrumentalists Troy Van Leeuwen and Dean Fertita), Arctic Monkeys (drummer Matt Helders) and Chavez (bassist Matt Sweeney) — brought some sleaze to one of the city's classiest venues, with the frontman falling shirtless into the crowd twice, nearly whipping out his dick once and delivering a tight, 22-song set that explored the hits from his two most respected solo albums (1977's The Idiot and Lust for Life) and his recent LP.
Starting off with the propulsive pound of David Bowie number-turned-drug-anthem-turned-Royal-Carribean-cruise-commercial-theme "Lust for Life," it took only one song before the suit jacket-clad singer unbuttoned and exposed his famous torso for "Sister Midnight" and further stripped down to just his pants by the song's finale.
Pop took a short breather to get the house lights on and thank the enthusiastic, sold-out crowd of aging punks and wannabe rockers, prefacing Post Pop standout "American Valhalla" by saying the song was about hoping there was a heaven for all of us to get into. It was the lone semi-sombre and reflective moment in an otherwise joyous evening, and although his most recent album deals heavily with ideas of mortality and loss, Pop and his band performed eight of its nine songs with such vigour throughout the set it felt like the good times would never end.
On paper, having Homme and co. as Pop's partners in the studio and on the road is so diabolically perfect it seems almost too good to be true. But watching the six-foot-something guitarist effortlessly slither his way through tracks like "Sixteen," "Funtime" and "Mass Production," it's not hard to see the influence of Berlin-era collaborators Carlos Alomar and Phil Palmer on his playing (listen to Era Vulgaris again and it should become pretty apparent).
But this tour, compared to other revered solo artists' endeavours, isn't really a guns-for-hire kind of scenario. It's clear the energy being exchanged is reciprocal, and although it's impossible to take your eyes off the almost nude frontman careening and caterwauling around the stage, the musicians each deserved a spotlight, whether it was Sweeney strutting his stuff through "Some Weird Sin" or Homme finally letting loose and delivering an impressive and melodic pre-encore solo outro to "China Girl."
Performing a seven-song encore peppered with pieces from Post Pop, the band, in some ways, saved the best for last, ending the unforgettable night with Pop's powerful diatribe about the information age, "Paraguay" (which went over extremely well, considering the amount of baby boomers in the audience), and, most fitting of all, "Success." Almost 39 years since the song's release, watching Pop perform alongside his peers and in front of generations of fans was a perfect way to cap the performance.