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THE STOOGES – Hammersmith Odeon 30/8/05

Posted: October 10th, 2005, by Chris Summerlin

(Please note I am not calling this IGGY POP & THE STOOGES at the CARLING APOLLO)

I had a discussion last night coming back from Leeds about the validity of these Don’t Look Back shows. I’ve never made a record that anyone called a “classic” so I don’t know for sure how I would feel if someone asked me to play something I made in the past in its entirety. I think I might ask myself what was wrong with my current output. Surely it’s just like saying
“What you do now sucks so play what we like”.
Maybe it flatters a performers ego enough to be part of it? It makes me feel weird that’s all I know. Mudhoney (by their own admission) never made a good record until Tomorrow Hit Today. I wonder how they feel about playing Superfuzz Bigmuff? Or more precisely I wonder how they feel about pulling more people in for that than their normal shows? It’s a good idea don’t get me wrong. The average music fan who was a drunken teenager when Touch Me I’m Sick hit is probably earning enough in 2005 to have enough disposable income to be able to afford to relive their youth. But it seems like the nail in the coffin for a band to have to go backwards like this. To look back. The Blues Explosion’s Orange is by far my favourite record in their back catalogue. If I went to see them and they played every song off it I’d be beside myself but paying to see them do it (guaranteed) is a little like admitting what I already know and I don’t WANT to write them off. I want the next JSBX record to be killer because I am a fan. I wanted the last Mudhoney record to be killer and it WAS but there they are doing something nearly 20 years old. And the best Dinosaur show I ever saw was J Mascis & The Fog! There’s plenty of proof that these artists are making the best music of their lives but unfortunately the money is in nostalgia right now. But I do concede at least You’re Living All Over Me or Superfuzz could be considered classic albums but Cat Power’s Covers Record? Mum? Ocean Songs? Hmmm.

So anyway, never one to not be a hypocritical cocksucker, I took my 30 quid and bought a ticket for the Stooges.

I figure The Stooges is different. Mainly because Funhouse really is a classic record. And also because the Asheton Brothers never really got their dues. And because (as far as I know) The Stooges only played once in the UK originally and since then it’s just been festivals too big to enjoy and too pricey to get into. And also because Mike Watt is on bass.
But still, I never expected it to be anything other than good entertainment. This is because I know, despite being the real wild child etc etc, Iggy Pop would do anything for a tenner and any decision to reunite with the Ashetons (of whom he stated “they couldn’t put together a home aquarium”) is surely motivated by the payout. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not paying £30 to sneer, I just had a pre determined limit to how much I thought this gig was going to affect me.

Which makes me CAPTAIN FUCKING CHUMPY as this was probably the best gig I have witnessed.

No shit.

They take the stage guerrilla style, super quick and with no fanfare and blast into Down On The Street and the sound is just mindblowing. God knows how long they soundchecked for but it’s like Ron and Watt’s amps are strapped to your head. For a bunch of old guys this is shockingly, urgently loud and heavy. OK, it looks like Scott Asheton died in 1987 and has been brought back to life by Jim Henson’s puppet workshop but fuck it, the man is on form. They are tight as hell. Iggy leaps onto Watts cabs early on in Loose and the tasteful surroundings of the Odeon shake. As Iggy hits the
“LOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRRRDDDDD!!!!”
on the start of TV Eye, it’s like Ron Asheton’s entire life has built up to the moment where every person in the Odeon just waits for the riff to TV Eye and he obliges and it smacks everyone louder and harder than we could have ever dreamed. I admit it, I cried. I was just overwhelmed. That song is the most amazing , full-on beast in the rock cannon – anyone’s cannon. I have tried this song in every band I have ever played in, I have seen The Fog play it (brilliantly), I have seen The Stooges Project play it, I’ve seen Ron play it with J Mascis, I’ve seen Iggy play it on TV with some lame ass poodle rock backing band. Hell, I’m playing in a Stooges tribute band at Christmas JUST so I can play TV Eye through a massive amp stack but nothing’s going to top seeing the Stooges play it at the Odeon. Not even Mark Arm singing Kick Out The Jams with the MC5 (or MC3 as it was). Or Sabbath doing Into The Void at the Birmingham Hummingbird. I stood there and let myself recover from the riff before making an educated decision to go fucking apeshit like a 12 year old girl at a Robbie Williams concert. My gig partner Ian Scanlon had already been in the pit from the start and I’d seen his grinning head surface about 3 times so I decided to head in after him. I don’t like moshing or crowd surfing or pits but if they were all this gleeful I might change my mind.
1970 and Dirt pass in light speed and I have one of those wonderful moments of clarity where I realise that this really is a great gig and I’m in the middle of it. Steve Mackay comes on for Funhouse to blast sax (at stupid volume I might add) and by now I have been wormed to the front and Watt’s rig is blasting my face off. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I keep having these bizarre realisations that the guy leaning over screaming in my face is IGGY FUCKING POP. As if to confirm this he shouts

“I AM IGGY FUCKING POP!”

between songs in case we had forgotten.

They segue into LA Blues like it was supposed to be on the record and whip up a shitstorm. At this point we’re only about 35 mins in and everyone is completely freaking out. Earlier on I swear we were standing next to Eric Clapton. If it was him I like to think that, at the point where Mackay and Ron Asheton battle the high notes at extreme volume while Iggy mounts the PA stack and dives in the crowd, old Slowhand made the decision to retire.
I would have gone home happy there but they rip into Skull Ring from Iggy’s new record and it’s beefy and in keeping and a damn convincing argument that if there’s one classic band that could make a new record it’s not The Pixies.
We get more than we could ask for in the majority of the first album too. For No Fun Iggy instigates a very controlled stage invasion but Watt still takes a tumble and gets up laughing as people mob him to kiss him as he plays. The receptionist dude from I’m Alan Partridge winds up with his arm around Iggy trying to take a pic on his phone as the rest of us in the crowd pelt him with beer cups and Iggy tries to worm his way loose. I Wanna Be Your Dog brings about a mass bonding experience and the weirdly friendly-yet-nuts moshpit erupts as Iggy goes in again. Even the Ashetons are grinning.
2 encores and Iggy comes back out. I think he would have played the whole thing again if they’d let him. The final encore consists of a victorious Iggy introducing the band – “The undisputed heavyweight champion of the world – Ron Asheton” being the one to raise the biggest cheer.
The highlight for me was the last person to be introduced. Old Watt stands back respectfully apart as Iggy introduces the Stooges and turns to leave as Iggy finally introduces himself. Iggy grabs his arm and proudly marches him to the front of the stage with his arm aloft and introduces him as
“From San Pedro, the Minuteman – Mike Watt”
to the biggest cheer of the evening and Watt looks on the verge of tears as Iggy gives him the spotlight as a genuine Stooge.
It was Watt and Mascis that brought the Ashetons back in the limelight and made a platform for this reunion and it’s so apt that a man so unfussy and humble as Watt (and not David Bowie for example) should be the one responsible for bringing someone like Iggy Pop what has to be his finest moment to date. It feels like a victory for the normal guy. As a Minuteman fan I feel part of it somehow, which I guess is the point of the Minutemen, even now, watching The Stooges.

Me and Ian sit on the train back to Sutton, piss drenched in sweat and yelling at each other over the insane whistling in our ears. We are two miserable old men but for that one evening I don’t think I could have been happier.



Chris Summerlin

Chris lives for the rock and can often be seen stumbling drunkenly on (and off) stages far and wide. Other hobbies include wearing jumpers, arsing about with Photoshop and trying to beat the world record for the number of offensive comments made in any 24 hour period. He has been married twice but his heart really belongs to his guitars. All 436 of them.

http://www.honeyisfunny.com

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