The Stooges – [Live]

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

As hectic as any music festival itinerary can be, there is an unspoken rule among those who go that some spectacles are simply not to be missed. Skipping a show that promises to be a historic event is simply not done because doing so could be compared with an act of poor form not unlike kicking a puppy. Things like that happen, but disparaging inferences are immediately made in that moment about the character of the aggressor because (s)he will forevermore have to live with the knowledge that they did wilfully elect to avoid something that everyone who did show up will wear on their arms like a badge of honor. The Stooges' free show in Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto as part of the North By Northeast music conference was such an event.

Not to sound trite, but the sight was truly beyond belief; at 9:30 pm EST, a vast conglomeration of people (the educated guess is over two thousand, but it is only a guess) assembled in a single city block-sized park to see Iggy and The Stooges perform a two-hour set, but the crowd far exceeded the size of the park; the streets on all four sides of the show had to be closed and there were still people standing on the sidewalk as much as two blocks away just to catch an earful of the band; the air was thick with smoke and the moisture from gallons of sweat; a sizable contingent of police officers stood patiently by at stage left – just waiting, itching for a reason; it was beautiful and, from the moment they boarded the stage, Iggy and The Stooges didn't leave anyone wanting.

Even though the singer introduced the band as “The remains of The Stooges,” from the moment they started, Iggy Pop, bassist Mike Watt, guitarist James Williamson, drummer Scott Asheton and saxophonist Steve MacKay hit the ground running through a breakneck set  comprised of songs from every Stooges album as well as other material originally recorded by Iggy and Williamson around the same period (“Loose,” “Kill City” and more) and broke stride for precisely nothing; the band wrung every drop of energy in their reserve into each track. If such a claim dare be made too, the band actually played them harder and faster than they did back in their heyday; Iggy flew around the stage through songs including “1970,” “Search And Destroy,” “Kill City” and “Raw Power,” and contrasted that energy level with a positively seething rendition of “Gimme Danger.” Every turn and step of the way, Williamson was always at the ready with another incendiary line complete with deafening volume boosts at every key moment (if you think the lead line of “Search And Destroy” was enormous on the album, you missed all of the possibilities that The Stooges' show at Yonge-Dundas Square afforded) and so continually sent the audience into fits of hysteria that were pushed to their absolute limits when Iggy invited the whole assembled throng to come up onto the stage and dance with him.

Even as the set was coming to a close, The Stooges showed no signs of slowing down as they burned through tracks including “No Fun,” “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and a song that, according to Pop, the band had never played live before. For their part, the crowd simply ate up every decibel; fans climbed lampposts to get a better look [photography was virtually impossible – and there was no hope for usable original shots when Ground Control was denied access to the press area in front of the stage for the first three songs of the set –ed] and surged every time Iggy egged them on. Iggy had every soul present in the palm of his hand, in fact, and he knew it; which made the fact that he gave his audience a heartfelt thanks in the end.

Thanks? No Iggy, thank you – if you missed this show, that's your tough luck because it's unlikely to ever go down like this again.

Iggy and the Stooges (view from the crowd) from NOW Magazine on Vimeo.


Further Reading:

Ground Control [Feature] – The Stooges Return From The Brink
Ground Control – Raw Power [Deluxe Edition] review
Ground Control – Raw Power [Legacy Edition] review


Iggy and The Stooges – "Search And Destroy" – live at NXNE Yonge-Dundas Square
Iggy and The Stooges – "Loose' – live at NXNE Yonge-Dundas Square


Both the Legacy and Deluxe Editions of Raw Power are out now. Buy them here on Amazon .

Comments are closed.