Iggy Pop live in Sydney: a punk rock birthday party for a living legend

April 21, Sydney Opera House: As he turns 74, the veteran rocker screens a sell-out show to celebrate – a reminder of the live fervour we've been missing

Do not be alarmed by the heaving crowds, the sweaty intermingling of human bodies and the carefree way that Iggy Pop – a man who yesterday turned 74, placing him well and truly within the ranks of the clinically vulnerable – seems to have no qualms about getting up close and personal with the audience. Though streamed on Iggy’s birthday last night, this gig was actually filmed two years ago, the second of two shows at the Sydney Opera House and a good eight months before COVID-19 pounced into our consciousness.

As a time machine into the way things were, it’s a beautiful thing. Bounding onto the stage to ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’, his leopard print jacket lasting approximately a minute-and-a-half before it’s peeled off, revealing his infamous hairless torso, Iggy Pop can’t help but grin. He’s been doing this for well over half a century now and still – still – the people come in their thousands to see those loose gyrations from a body made of veins like spaghetti.

He’s not backed by the all-star backing band that he took on the road for 2016’s ‘Post Pop Depression’, but who needs Joshua Homme and Matt Helders when you’ve got a man in his 70s singing about the joys of S&M? In fact, that album is ignored entirely in favour of a great, giddy gallop through Iggy’s greatest hits; solo and Stooges and a glammy cover of his good mate Bowie’s ‘The Jean Genie’ thrown in for good measure. There’s even a brass section, making everything that more soulful, at times coming on like an X-rated Otis Redding revue.

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After an impressive run through ‘Lust For Life’, ‘The Passenger’ and ‘Some Weird Sin’ – during which Iggy toasts the crowd with a giant golden goblet, as befitting of the godfather of punk – the brutal thrum of ‘1969’ kicks up. “Now let’s get down and dirty!” yells Iggy as his fingers jump to his belt, which he unbuckles before gesturing to his flies. Is he… going to get his knob out? Though he may well have done 50 years previously, it’s a no show tonight. Instead he ends the song sweetly blowing kisses.

After a year of watching earnest, but somewhat lonely looking rock stars gigging in empty venues online, it’s almost as much of a pleasure watching the people in the crowd as it is Iggy. With wonderful foresight, Iggy insists that the house lights are kept on throughout, so we can see every grin, every twinkling eye and every triumphant punch of the air from the pit. “Get up here and dance with me!” he urges during ‘No Fun’. Roughly 50 fans do as they’re told. The stage invasion continues through ‘Down on The Street’, the fans lurching and jerking as Iggy surveys the scene – once and always a master of it all.

Iggy Pop
Iggy Pop performs live

Iggy pop played:

‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’

‘Gimme Danger’

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‘The Passenger’

‘Lust for Life’

‘Skull Ring’

‘I’m Sick of You’

‘Some Weird Sin’

‘Search and Destroy’

‘T.V. Eye’

‘Mass Production’

‘The Jean Genie’

‘1969’

‘No Fun’

‘Down on the Street’

‘Real Cool Time’

‘Nightclubbing’

‘Sixteen’

‘Five Foot One’

‘Real Wild Child (Wild One)’

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