As an ageless stream of chatty punks sifted their way through Festival Hall, denim clad and cans in hand, the night seemed almost akin to a Sunday service of sorts. I’m not saying Iggy Pop is Punk Jesus, but hey, I’m not not saying it either.
Brazen as they may be, it made sense to book The Chats to support one of rock’s most obnoxious characters. Providing a blistering set of boozy quick hitters, the teenage Sunshine Coast trio roused the crowd with their brand of raucous ocker Aussie punk and bogan antics, with ‘Pub Feed,’ ‘Temperature’ and their viral hit ‘Smoko’ drawing nods from many of the seasoned punks scattered throughout the venue. While it’s certainly a bit surreal that three shit-kicking kids can nab such a premier support gig off the back of a viral video enshrining a durry break, you’ve definitely got to hand it to The Chats this time around.
After an extended orchestral introduction, a typically bare-chested Iggy Pop sauntered onstage to the snarl of a dozen rabid hounds, undoubtedly heralding the ominous ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog.’ Pop’s energy and unpredictability immediately shifted Festival Hall into a frenzy as he convulsed around stage to the track’s plinking piano and droning riff before segueing into ‘Gimme Danger,’ offering a one-two punch of Stooges material to satisfy even the staunchest of fans. As if things weren’t already ballistic enough, Pop conducted his ensemble into the frolicking rock stomp of ‘The Passenger,’ seeing the crowd holler the song’s classic wordless refrain in unison as Pop contorted and wormed his way to the front.
Needless to say, when the iconic walloping drumbeat to ‘Lust For Life’ came next, Melbourne lost its collective shit. As many a punter hurtled over the fence cordoning off the seated area to slam dance amongst general admission, Iggy Pop smirked knowingly as he spat the song’s hedonistic catchphrase into the crowd. The fact that these four songs were performed within twenty minutes of Pop taking the stage proved that Melbourne was in for a night to remember.
Iggy Pop is a true showman, and his talent and raw charm as an entertainer were on full display last night. Sipping from a heavy golden chalice, his Michigan drawl filled Festival Hall as he reminisced upon his musical partnership with David Bowie before launching into ‘Some Weird Sin’ and ‘Mass Production,’ honouring Bowie again later with a faithful cover of ‘Jean Genie’. Pop revisited his proto-punk origins heavily throughout the night, diving even further into his catalogue of Stooges material with ‘1969,’ and ‘Search and Destroy.’ At one point, Iggy even beckoned the front rows to join him onstage as he ripped through ‘No Fun,’ leading a party of raucous punters as he stomped across the floor.
‘Nightclubbing’ was preceded by the bang of a confetti cannon and a brass-heavy rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ from Pop’s phenomenal backing band to celebrate Pop’s 72nd birthday, with Iggy grinning ear-to-ear from the crowd’s loving reception as he lurched into the woozy Idiot cut. After taking a break from the stage following the conclusion of ‘Sixteen’ and his crowd-pleasing cover of ‘Real Wild Child,’ Iggy Pop returned to gift his fans with another slice of The Stooges with ‘Down On The Street.’ As he bade farewell to Melbourne with a menacing cover of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds ‘Red Right Hand’ and one last journey into the front rows of the crowd to grace his punk disciples, promising to visit soon again in the future.
Maybe the religious allusions were all just a coincidence, but when you get to witness such a spectacle as Iggy Pop writhing his wrinkled torso with such disdain at the age of 72 on an Easter Sunday, it’s kind of hard to not believe in Punk Jesus.