Iggy Pop gets his face on with a crack band including guitarist/singer Josh Homme.
His band starred Queens of the Stone Age honcho Josh Homme and members Dean Fertita (also of the Dead Weather) and Troy Van Leeuwen — all raising a suitable racket on guitars and the occasional keyboard – and Arctic Monkeys’ standout drummer Matt Helders. Save for tour add-ons Van Leeuwen and bassist Matt Sweeney, it was the same core cast from Pop’s new Homme-produced Post Pop Depression, one of the singer’s more vital recent efforts: dark, largely brooding yet melodic, surrounding his craggy baritone with fitting rock orchestration.Hats off – or should we say shirts off – to Iggy Pop, the proto-punk survivor who flexed his weathered, chiseled upper torso during a typically robust performance at the Orpheum Theatre on Monday. A week and a half from his 69th birthday, the man born James Osterberg flaunted a continued lust for life that reflected his keen eye for collaborators in the caliber of his band and choice of material.
The former Stooges kingpin milked that album (especially, oddly, in a long encore) during his near-two-hour set at the long-soldout Orpheum. Otherwise, he only drew – liberally — from his first two solo albums circa 1977, which were produced by David Bowie, who just died from cancer in January at that same age of 69.
Musically, the Post Pop Depression material complemented that early, Bowie-produced catalog, but perhaps there also was a nod to the passing of Pop’s old running mate – and a lusty celebration of life still in motion. Despite a limping gait, the elastic frontman was pumped to engage his other favorite collaborator, the audience, motioning that he wished he could climb the PA stack to get to fans in the upper boxes, while settling for crowd-surfing and scrambling up and down the aisles.
The band – in contrasting red tuxedo jackets – played perfectly to the drama in support mode while lending hearty vocal harmonies and edging into Homme-led guitar assaults, lifting the end of “China Girl” (a Bowie co-write Pop first recorded) while the singer left the stage to rest his bones for the encore. The sound mix got dirty at times, obscuring Pop’s words, but it was all in the spirit.
At night’s end, Pop launched into his snarling, suffer-no-fools escape to “Paraguay” from the new album before returning to his debut. “Here comes success, over my hill,” he sang, and you knew it was still on his own terms.